Conscience Protection Bill in South Dakota Legislature Discriminatory, Harmful to Patients

February 22, 2021 6:30 pm

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Discriminatory legislation similar to a bill that was tabled last year found new life in the House State Affairs committee today as lawmakers voted to advance House Bill 1247.

The ACLU of South Dakota opposes House Bill 1247, legislation that would allow medical practitioners, health care institutions and health care payers to refuse to provide services based on moral or religious objections.

“Freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans, but that freedom does not give any of us the right to harm others,” said Jett Jonelis, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “It doesn’t mean a right to refuse to transport a patient in need because she had an abortion. It doesn’t mean refusing care to a patient because she is transgender. It doesn’t mean overriding patient directives about end-of-life care. or refusing to fill prescriptions for HIV medication or birth control. Medical standards, not religious or moral beliefs, should guide medical and health care services.”

Similar legislation – Senate Bill 109 – was introduced in 2020 but tabled in committee.

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