Religious Liberties Legislation Heard in House Committee

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Health Policy heard public testimony on legislation aimed at protecting the conscience rights of medical workers. House Bill 1430, sponsored by House Speaker Representative Tim Jones (R-Eureka), would specify that anyone providing medical services cannot be required to perform or participate in activities that violate his or her conscience or principles.

Speaker Jones says this year’s proposal is aimed at protecting medical workers, and is more focused than versions filed in years prior. House Bill 1430 specifically outlines procedures that would be protected under this legislation. “It allows physicians, nurses and medical researchers the opportunity to refuse to participate in procedures and research such as are specifically enumerated in the bill: abortion, contraception, and stem cell research,” Speaker Jones said.

Tyler McClay, general counsel for the Missouri Catholic Conference (MCC), testified in support of HB 1430. He pointed out that the purpose of this legislation is to protect the employee’s right to refuse to provide morally objectionable services. McClay also said that as technology develops, the need for a statute increasingly grows, as these issues will likely continue to arise.

The legislation met opposition from pro-abortion advocates during the hearing, and expects to face opposition during the legislative session. Last year’s version of this proposal moved steadily through the process until it was lost in the long list of bills to be brought up before the Senate. The Committee has not yet taken further action on HB 1430.

Posted: January 31, 2014

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