Arkansas Gov Asa Hutchinson Signs Bill to Protect Doctors, Nurses From Having to Do Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 26, 2021   |   5:44PM   |   Little Rock, Arkansas

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill today to protect doctors, nurses and other medical professional from having to participate in procedures like abortions that violate their consciences.

Hutchinson signed the Medical Ethics and Diversity Act, a bill sponsored by Sen. Kim Hammer and Rep. Brandt Smith that protects doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals and organizations from being forced to participate in procedures, such as abortion, that violate their conscience. It enjoyed the support of pro-life groups like Alliance Defending Freedom.

Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Stephanie Nichols told LifeNews that she appreciated the governor signing the measure.

“Patients are best served by doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who are free to act ethically and consistent with their oath to ‘do no harm.’ The MED Act ensures that no medical professional is compelled to breach this oath by being forced to participate in procedures or treatments that violate their conscience,” she said.

Nichols added: “Driving out doctors, nurses, and other medical providers because of their faith or ethical convictions means fewer health care options for patients at a time when our nation’s health care system is overstretched and experiencing a dire shortage of providers. We commend Gov. Hutchinson for signing this bill and providing more choices for patients by protecting the right of Arkansas medical professionals—our health care heroes—to operate according to their ethical and religious beliefs.”

The the bill does not target any group or category of people. It permits medical professionals and institutions from being forced to perform services with which they disagree based upon religion, morality, philosophy, etc. From S.B. 289:

(a) A medical practitioner, healthcare institution, or healthcare payer: (1) Has the right not to participate in a healthcare service that violates his, her, or its conscience; (2) Is not required to participate in a healthcare service that violates his, her, or its conscience . . .

(b) A medical practitioner, healthcare institution, or healthcare payer that holds himself, herself, or itself out to the public as religious, states in its governing documents that it has a religious purpose or mission, and has internal operating policies or procedures that implement its religious beliefs has the right to make employment, staffing, contracting, and admitting privilege decisions consistent with his, her, or its religious beliefs.

Before he signed the measure, pro-life attorney Wesley Smith, an expert on assisted suicide, euthanasia and end of life issues, urged Governor Hutchinson to sign the measure.

“This proposal is entirely defensive in nature, and excludes emergency care from its provisions. And rather than being intended to open the door to discrimination, it seeks to prevent it,” he said.

Smith added:

Think about the supporters who might believe that such a law is necessary. The secularists are attempting to kill comity in health care. We have seen Catholic hospitals sued for refusing transgender hysterectomies — which would sterilize the patient and remove a healthy organ, against Catholic moral teaching. We have seen efforts in bioethics to force medical professionals to participate in abortion and assisted suicide — even if it’s against their religious beliefs. We have seen advocacy of requiring doctors to participate in transgender transitions of children.

In short, there is a concerted effort underway to compel the entire medical sector to adopt a utilitarian secular ethical outlook that would either force pro-lifers, orthodox Catholics, etc. to violate their deepest held moral beliefs as the cost of medical licensure, or compel them — as a matter of personal conscience — to get out of medicine.

I am told that Governor Asa Hutchinson is under intense pressure to veto this bill. He should disregard the manufactured hysteria. The bill is necessary to protect professionals’ right to practice medicine under traditional Hippocratic ideals and is consistent with institutions’ founding religious precepts.

ACTION ALERT: Contact Governor Asa Hutchinson and thank him for signing this pro-life bill. Go to or call (501) 682-2345