Human Rights Campaign Condemns Governor McMaster for Signing Discriminatory Healthcare Bill into Law

by HRC Staff

COLUMBIA – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — is speaking out against the South Carolina Governor’s signing 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.

This new law negatively impacts the medical care of all South Carolinians, including the LGBTQ+ community. It can limit access to critical services like gender-affirming care, contraceptives, HIV medications, fertility care, end of life care, and mental health services, as well as allow insurance companies and employers to refuse to reimburse, pay, or contract for medically necessary services.

In addition, healthcare institutions will be able to refuse to refer, teach, and research any items they deem to be against their beliefs. Medical institutions will be able to refuse to publish research, healthcare providers will be able to override patients’ end of life decisions, and pharmacies will be able to 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. A recent PRRI survey found that 58% of South Carolinians are opposed to religiously based service refusals.

Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow released the following statement:

“Governor McMaster has failed to advocate for the people of South Carolina and should be ashamed to put his name on such a discriminatory law. This is a dangerous step backwards in the fight for equal access to healthcare, prioritizing personal beliefs over necessary medical care. It dangerously legitimizes non-medical opinions of health care institutions, medical providers, and even insurance companies at the cost of critical patient care, compromising the health and safety of all South Carolinians. It is deeply troubling that politicians in South Carolina are blatantly ignoring the repercussions this law will have, including for those in the LGBTQ+ community, to pander to their extreme base. The Human Rights Campaign will do everything in our power to fight this dangerous provision that threatens the wellbeing of so many people across the state of South Carolina.”

Ivy Hill, a leader in the SC United for Justice & Equality coalition, Community Health Program Director for the Campaign for Southern Equality, and Executive Director of Gender Benders, released the following statement:

"It is already too challenging for vulnerable patients in South Carolina, especially transgender people and other LGBTQ+ people who live in rural communities, to access affirming, quality medical care. This law will make that access even more challenging, granting any medical provider a license to discriminate. The law's sponsors falsely claim to merely be allowing medical providers to opt out of offering specific types of care – but when that care is disproportionately necessary for a transgender person (such as gender-affirming hormone therapy), a same-sex couple (such as fertility treatments) or a man who has sex with men (such as PrEP), then the law is clearly discriminating against people based on who they are. We urge all medical providers to continue standing by their oath to Do No Harm – and that includes caring for all people and their unique needs."

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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