Mo. House Passes ‘ Medical Conscience’ Bill
February 12, 2014

(AP) – Missouri health care workers could refuse to partake in certain medical procedures that violate their ethical or religious beliefs under legislation endorsed by the Missouri House on Wednesday.

The House voted 116-38 to give first-round approval to the bill, which is sponsored by Republican House Speaker Tim Jones. He said the measure would protect workers from having to engage in procedures that conflict with their beliefs, while also protecting patients.

“This is good for patients in making sure they don’t have people involved in their procedures making second guesses because of their religious beliefs,” said Jones, of Eureka.

Republican Rep. Keith Frederick, an orthopedic surgeon from Rolla, agreed and said it was important that medical personnel are engaged with the patient rather than worrying about religious conflicts.

The measure would apply to procedures such as those involving abortion-inducing drugs, artificial insemination and the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration. It would also let workers opt out of procedures involving cloning and embryonic stem cell research. Religiously-affiliated hospitals would be shielded from liability for refusing to provide medical procedures that conflict with their religious beliefs.

It would require health care workers to give “reasonable” notice to their employers if they are going to opt out of a procedure. Health personnel also could not be fired or demoted for refusing to participate in an operation. The legislation would not permit workers to withhold emergency treatments that could save a patient’s life.