The Missouri House of Representatives this week passed a bill protecting the conscience rights of healthcare providers. House Bill 457, sponsored by House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka), provides healthcare workers the right to opt out of providing medical care in certain circumstances when to do so would violate their religious or moral convictions.
The bill expands Missouri law, which currently allows healthcare providers to opt out of participating in abortion, by permitting them to opt out of participating in contraception, sterilization procedures that are not medically necessary, embryonic stem cell research, assisted reproduction, and fetal tissue experimentation.
The bill would require medical professionals to provide “reasonable notice” of their intent not to participate in these procedures, and would prevent them from withholding emergency medical treatment or services necessary to save the life of the patient.
Healthcare workers asserting these conscience rights could not be discriminated against, and could seek legal recourse in the event that these rights were violated. Speaking in favor of the bill, House Speaker Jones said this bill protects conscience rights that are and have always been “sacrosanct” in America, rights that many came to this country to claim.
The House passed the bill by a vote of 116-41, with members from both sides of the aisle voting in favor of it. House Bill 457 now moves to the Senate for consideration. A companion bill – Senate Bill 84 sponsored by Senator Scott Rupp (R-O’Fallon) – was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 11 by a vote of 5-2.