Bill Would Allow Denial of Medical Services Based on Personal Belief Rather Than Patient Need
COLUMBIA – Today, the Human Rights Campaign — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization — is speaking out against the South Carolina legislature’s final passage of HB 4776, a bill 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. The legislation now heads to the South Carolina Governor for consideration.
This bill allows healthcare providers and institutions to refuse to provide care, even when it is medically necessary and in the best interest of the patient. If passed, the people of South Carolina 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.
Religious freedom is a fundamental American value, and protecting religious minorities from discrimination is entirely compatible with protecting vulnerable and at risk populations. It is not a license to deprive others of their civil rights. According to a recent PRRI study, 58% of South Carolinians are opposed to religiously based service refusals.
Governor Henry McMaster must veto this outrageous bill.
Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow released the following statement:
“This dangerous bill is an attack on best practice medical care that leaves patients vulnerable, including the LGBTQ+ community. The Hippocratic Oath calls for doctors to do no harm, yet this bill does exactly the opposite by enabling healthcare providers to put their own personal beliefs ahead of patient care. Politicians in South Carolina are engaging in a politically motivated game that sets a dangerous precedent, upholding the non-medical beliefs of those in positions of power over the rights of those in need of care. We call on Governor McMaster to recognize the serious implications this bill will have on all South Carolinians and to veto HB 4776.”
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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