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 House of Representatives 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. This bill will disproportionately impact LGBTQ+ people and other vulnerable communities. The legislation now heads to the South Carolina Senate for further consideration.
Along with Senate Bills 1130 and 811, HB 4776 allows healthcare institutions to refuse to provide care, even when it is medically necessary and in the best interest of the patient. Under this legislation, healthcare institutions will be able to refuse to refer, teach, and research any items they deem to be against their beliefs. These bills will impact access to 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.
According to a study published this month, 58% of South Carolinians are opposed to religiously based service refusals.
Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow issued the following statement in reaction to House passage:
“It is disturbing that some politicians in South Carolina are prioritizing individual providers’ beliefs ahead of patient health and wellbeing. This legislation is dangerously silent in regards to the needs of patients and fails to consider the impact that expanding refusals can have on their health.”
“Religious freedom is a fundamental American value that is entirely compatible with providing quality, non-discriminatory healthcare. It is not a license to deprive others of their rights simply because of personal beliefs. This bill sends the message that those seeking medical care in conflict with their doctor’s non-medical values are not equal members of society entitled to dignity and respect.”
“Let’s call this what it is – a vicious, discriminatory attack on vulnerable patients, including those who care for LGBTQ+ people.”
This bill could result in assisted living facilities refusing to provide needed ongoing treatments, administrative staff declining to submit insurance claims, health care providers overriding patient’s end of life directives, receptionist turning away patients, and medical researchers refusing to publish the results of a state funded study because the scientific evidence was in conflict with the researcher’s beliefs. In 2022, there are so far more than 320 anti-LGBTQ+ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country.
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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