Home Scholarly articles ACLU and Equitas Health sue Ohio over ‘medical conscience’ clause

ACLU and Equitas Health sue Ohio over ‘medical conscience’ clause


Challenging a clause in Ohio’s latest budget bill, the ACLU and a health care system focused on LGBTQ+ care sued the state and Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday over a provision that allows doctors to refusing health care for a matter of “conscience”.

The ACLU of Ohio and Equitas Health announced the trial Friday, asking for the provision to be rescinded.

House Bill 110 was a law that covered all aspects of the budget, but the “medical conscience” clause was inserted into the bill towards the end of the process.

The clause allows doctors and other medical professionals to refuse patients if they decide the treatment would violate their “moral, ethical or religious beliefs or principles.”

Reproductive rights groups like Pro-Choice Ohio and Planned Parenthood have strongly opposed the clause, saying doctors should only use medically induced reasons to deny care, and calling the clause a legislative override in the relationship. doctor-patient.

DeWine did not use his veto to strike the provision from the budget bill, saying the bill likely would not lead to discrimination and only solidifies in law what is already happening in medical facilities. .

The ACLU’s legal challenge, filed Friday in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, says the provision violates a constitutional rule that says bills must be limited to a “single subject.” They say the budget was the wrong place for what they call the “health care denial law.”

“The Health Care Denial Act did not pass as a stand-alone article, subject to the usual scrutiny and public debate of legislation,” the ACLU said in a statement. “The Ohio Constitution requires that bills be limited to a single subject to prevent consignment of unnatural provisions to a single bill.”

Kaarina Ornelas, chair of the board of Equitas Health, said the measure puts the patient-doctor relationship “at risk, further marginalizing those who need our services the most.”

The lawsuit also cites opposition to the provision of the Ohio Hospital Association, the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, the Ohio State Medical Association and the Ohio Association of Health Plans.

The parties to the lawsuit say the measure is “desperately — and unconstitutionally — vague, leaving organizations like Equitas Health in a state of confusion.”

This is the second lawsuit related to the medical conscience clause. Last week, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein announced the city lawsuit against the state, calling the law unconstitutional, illegal and a violation of autonomy.

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