Doctors in Ohio now allowed to refuse medical care to LGBT+ community
This is so worrying.
LGBT+ activists in Ohio are protesting after Governor Mike DeWine signed in an amendment that would allow doctors to refuse medical care to LGBT+ patients on "moral, ethical or religious" grounds.
The provision was added in to the state's budget by the Governor at the last minute. It will allow healthcare practitioners the freedom to "decline to perform, participate in, or pay for any health care service which violates the practitioner's, institution's, or payer's conscience as informed by the moral, ethical, or religious beliefs."
This exemption will be "limited to conscience-based objections to a particular health care service".
The amendment stipulates that the healthcare provider is "responsible for providing all appropriate health care services, other than the particular health care service that conflicts with the medical practitioner's beliefs or convictions, until another medical practitioner or facility is available."
The concern for many LGBT+ advocates is that this law will be used to deny PrEP - a drug which is highly effective at preventing the contraction of HIV. Others are concerned that this law could also allow doctors to refuse gender-affirming care to transgender and non-binary patients.
Equality Ohio, an LGBT+ organisation based in the state, described the legislation as a "license to discriminate".
The group's public policy strategist Dominic Detwiler said said that the amendment was added in last minute as "they couldn't pass this on its merits as a standalone bill, because literally no one is asking for this to be passed."
Alphonso David, the president of Human Rights Campaign, said that the provision could jeopardise the "medical well-being of more than 380,000 LGBTQ people in Ohio."
Governor DeWine defended the provision and said that it is "not a problem".
He said: "If there's other things that maybe a doctor has a problem with, it's worked out. Someone else does those things."
Activists have noted that the fact that a quarter of Ohio's population live in rural areas may mean that this referral system may not work for everyone, and some LGBT+ patients may be unable to seek the treatment they need.