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Clinical Advisor‘Conscience Bills’ Let Providers Opt Out of Care

Montana Law Expands Protections for Medical Professionals’ Conscientious Objections

In a move that has sparked debate within the medical community, a new Montana law will soon offer broad legal protections to healthcare providers who refuse to participate in certain treatments or procedures due to ethical, moral, or religious beliefs. The law, set to go into effect in October, has been criticized for potentially undermining patient care and limiting legal recourse for patients.

Key Points:
  • The Montana law, known as the Implement Medical Ethics and Diversity Act, will take effect in October.
  • It extends beyond existing federal and state conscience objection laws, covering a wide range of medical procedures and treatments.
  • Critics argue that the law could undermine patient care and limit patients’ ability to take legal action against providers.
  • This year, 21 bills introducing or expanding conscience clauses have been introduced in state legislatures, with two becoming law.
Additional Points:
  • The law applies to a broad spectrum of healthcare practitioners, institutions, and insurers, except for emergency rooms.
  • Supporters claim the law fills gaps in federal legislation, allowing more medical professionals to practice based on their conscience.
  • Opponents, including the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, view this as a way to restrict the rights of specific groups, such as women and the LGBTQ+ community.
  • The Montana law represents a significant expansion of conscience objection protections for healthcare providers but raises ethical and legal concerns about patient care and rights.
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“I tend to call them ‘medical refusal bills.’ Patients are being denied the standard of care, being denied adequate medical care, because objections to certain routine medical practices are being prioritized over patient health.”
– Liz Reiner Platt, Director of Columbia Law School’s Law, Rights, and Religion Project

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