Michigan Legislators Back Pro-Life Conscience Clause Legislation

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 22, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Michigan Legislators Back Pro-Life Conscience Clause Legislation

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
April 22, 2004

Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — Just one day after Wisconsin’s governor vetoed legislation that would have allowed medical workers to exercise their conscience and opt out of participating in activities such as euthanasia and research on human embryos, Michigan legislators advanced a similar proposal.

The House voted 69-35 to approve a package of bills that would guarantee that medical personnel and institutions would not be penalized for objecting to acts that they object to for moral reasons, such as abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research.

The bills now go to the state Senate.

Opponents of the legislation say the bills could be used to deny health care services to patients.

But, Republican Rep. Randy Richardville of Monroe, a leading sponsor of the legislation, said the legislation protects health care providers who don’t want to be involved in the life-taking practices.

"Nothing in this bill, not a thing, denies a patient from receiving medical care," he said, according to an AP report. "This simply means a medical professional cannot violate their religious obligations."

There are a total of four bills in the "Conscience Clause” package.

HB 5006 protects any individual health care provider, such as a pharmacist, nurse, or doctor, from losing their jobs over refusal to perform acts, such as participating in an abortion or filling a prescription for an abortion drug. A medical facility could object on similar grounds, such as private hospitals, under HB 5276. The last two bills, HB 5277 and HB 5278, would allow insurance companies to likewise exempt themselves from medical practices they find morally objectionable.

Kristen Hemker, an associate for public policy at the Michigan Catholic Conference agrees that the issue is religious freedom.

"There is no other industry where a professional is required to go against their conscience to keep their job,” Hemker told LifeNews.com.

Hemker pointed out that the state has 26 Catholic hospitals that serve millions of Michiganders.

"We’ve been here since the state’s founding,” explained Hemker, who added that other non-Catholic entities, such as Lutheran nursing homes and individual practitioners need protection.

On Wednesday, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle (D) vetoed a pro-life conscience clause bill that would have protected the rights of health care workers to refuse to participate in objectionable activities such as abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia and research involving the destruction of human embryos.

In February, three Texas pharmacists were fired by Eckerd Corporation for refusing to fill prescriptions for the so-called morning after pill, which pharmacist Gene Herr and two co-workers believe kills the unborn child shortly after conception. Earlier this month, a Wisconsin pharmacist came under fire for refusing to fill a prescription for birth control.

Earlier this year, the California Supreme Court ruled that Catholic Charities must provide coverage for birth control in its health insurance plan, regardless of the fact that contraception is contrary to teachings of the Catholic Church. The decision sets the stage for possibly forcing Catholic and other Christian groups to pay for other immoral activities such as abortion or assisted suicides, if legalized.

Related Sites:
Michigan Catholic Conference – https://www.micatholicconference.org
Michigan Legislature – https://www.michiganlegislature.org