Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Protecting Doctors, Nurses From Being Forced to Do Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 11, 2023   |   12:45PM   |   Tallahassee, Florida

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Governor Ron DeSantis has signed SB 1580, a bill that protects doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals and organizations from being forced to participate in health care services that violate their conscience:

Among other things, the bill would protect doctors, nurses and others who refuse to participate in killing babies in abortions.

The legislation provides that health care providers and health care payors have the right to opt out of participation in or payment for certain health care services on the basis of conscience-based objections. It would allow them to refuse to participate in abortions or other objectionable activities based on their moral, ethical or religious beliefs.

The legislation defined “conscience-based objection” as based on “a sincerely held religious, moral, or ethical belief” while, at the same time, protecting unfair discrimination against patients based on their race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Importantly, it ensures that any state medical board or the Department of Health can’t take any actions against doctors or other medical professionals for refusing to do abortions.

A leading pro-life legal group applauded DeSantis for signing the legislation.

“Americans shouldn’t be forced to violate their ethical and religious beliefs, and this certainly includes doctors, nurses, and other medical providers. Thankfully, SB 1580 is a strong step in outlining comprehensive protections in Florida law for medical conscience and freedom of speech for medical providers,” Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Stephanie Nichols told LifeNews.

“The legislation ensures that medical professionals aren’t compelled to breach their oath to ‘do no harm’ by being required to participate in procedures or treatments that violate their conscience. Forcing doctors, nurses, and other medical providers to choose between their faith or their profession will drive many from the workforce and lead to 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,” Nichols explained.

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She concluded: “We’re grateful to Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for protecting free speech rights for medical professionals and the right for them to live in accordance with their ethical and religious beliefs as they offer their much-needed services.”

The new law defines a health care provider as “any healthcare provider or facility licensed under a dozen different statutes, including doctors, nurses, pharmacies, hospitals, mental health providers, medical transport services, clinical lab personnel, nursing homes, and more.”

And the type of health services that can be refused are defined as “including, but not limited to, medical research, medical procedures, testing, diagnosis, referral, dispensing medications, therapy, recordkeeping, and ‘any other care or service.’ ”

Health care payors include “any employer, as well as any health insurer, health plan, HMO, or ‘any other entity that pays for, or arranges for payment of, any health care service.”

The law will go into effect on July 1.