Legislation will allow medical providers to deny services based on religious belief that will harm LGBTQ+ patients
Helena, Montana — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — blasted today’s vote in the Montana House of Representatives to approve HB303, legislation that allows medical practitioners, healthcare institutions, and health care payers – including doctors, nurses, counselors, pharmacists, and insurance companies – to deny any medical services based on personal belief rather than patient need.
HB303 allows health care providers and institutions to refuse to provide care, even when it is medically necessary and in the best interest of the patient. If passed, Montanans could have restricted access to mental health services, fertility care, gender affirming care, HIV medications, and any other care that is deemed to be against their provider’s personal beliefs. Medical institutions could refuse to publish research, employers could refuse to reimburse medically necessary services, healthcare providers could override patients’ end of life decisions, and pharmacies could refuse to fill contraception prescriptions.
Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow issued the following statement today:
“In the United States, every person is free to practice their religious faith, but that does not mean that religion should be used as a means to discriminate or deny services to others. Today, politicians in the Montana House prioritized personal beliefs above and beyond the urgent health care needs of Montana families. This is a dangerous attack on the rights of patients living in Montana, including LGBTQ+ patients.”
In addition to allowing health care providers to use personal religious beliefs as a license to discriminate, HB303 would require emergency room health care workers to opt-in in writing to provide emergency procedures like abortion that might be necessary to save a patient’s life. The bill is especially dangerous for rural Montanans who often live hundreds of miles from another health care center. Opponents have already predicted that the bill’s broad language will make it subject to future litigation.
The bill now heads to the Montana Senate.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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