House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) testified before the House Health Care Policy Committee about HB 457. The bill addresses the conscience rights of health care workers. As the bill’s sponsor, Jones said the bill has “great support in both the House and Senate and on both sides of the aisle.”
The bill, Jones said, “…is truly for the worker – for the employee. It provides a shield – not a sword – to help them protect their conscience.”
The law would allow a health care professional to opt out of taking part in certain procedures they deem to be contrary to their religious or moral convictions. Jones did note that prior notice of the objection has to be given to an employer, and the law could not be used by an employee as a sword, but only as a shield.
“This is not a law that would allow an employee to suddenly wake up one day and say, ‘I cannot do this,’ they would have to give their employer notice,” he said.
Joe Ortwerth, executive director of the Missouri Family Policy Council, testified in support of the bill. “Health care workers take their credo, ‘Do no harm’ seriously. But in some situations they are left with a choice of employment or going against their conscience rights,” he said.
Following the hearing HB 457 passed out of committee by a vote of 5-3.