It’s hard to swallow you shoving your religion down my throat
The Michigan Republicans are trotting out a “new” bill to further their War on Women and those who don’t share their narrow worldview. I say it’s “new” because it was a bill that died in the last legislative session. They call their bill the “Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act” but it’s nothing more than a backdoor way to limit Michigan women’s access to safe and legal abortion services across the state. What makes this legislation so insidious is that it may also restrict all Michigander’s access to things like birth control, vaccines, counseling and even HIV/AIDS treatment.
The bill, S.B. 136 has the following provisions:
- Allow a health facility to assert as a matter of conscience an objection to participating in a health care service, and decline to participate in that service.
- Allow a health care payer to decline to offer a contract, policy, or product that paid for, or facilitated payment for, a health care service that violated the payer’s conscience.
- Allow a health care purchaser to decline to purchase or contribute financially toward the purchase of a contract, policy, or product that included coverage for a health care service that violated the purchaser’s conscience.
- Allow a health provider employed by, under contract with, or granted privileges by a county medical care facility or nursing home to request accommodation to avoid participating in an act to remove a life-sustaining device, if he or she objected to such an act as a matter of conscience.
- Require an employer (other than a county medical care facility or nursing home) that employed, contracted with, or granted privileges to a health provider to adopt and implement a policy to address situations in which a health provider had an objection to participating in a health care service as a matter of conscience.
- Require a university, college, or educational institution where education and training regarding the provision of a health care service were conducted to adopt a similar policy applicable to its students, faculty, and staff members.
- Prohibit an employer from asking a prospective health provider about his or her objection to participating in a health care service, or from refusing to employ, contract with, or grant privileges to a provider who requested accommodation, unless the service was a regular or substantial portion of the normal course of duties.
- Prohibit an employer from penalizing a health provider and prohibit a university, college, or educational institution from refusing admission to an individual or penalizing a student or member of its faculty or staff for expressing a conscientious objection or requesting an accommodation to avoid participating in a health care service.
- Protect a payer who asserted an objection from civil, criminal, and administrative liability.
- Protect a facility or provider who asserted an objection or requested reasonable accommodation from civil liability; criminal, administrative, and licensure action; and discrimination regarding eligibility for a grant, contract, or program.
- Prohibit discrimination against a payer that asserted an objection, or a provider who requested reasonable accommodation.
- Allow a provider to bring a civil action if he or she were discriminated against as a result of his or her request for reasonable accommodation.
- Prescribe a civil infraction fine of up to $1,000 per day or per occurrence for a violation of the proposed Act.
There’s a whole lot of anti-woman and anti-LGBT garbage in this bill. It would allow health care providers, for instance, to refuse to offer life-saving abortions for women whose life is endangered. Several of the provisions are designed to shield anti-gay medical personnel from treating gay men or lesbians as was the case with homophobic Eastern Michigan University medical student Julea Ward who refused to counsel gay patients. Although a federal court dismissed Ward’s lawsuit against EMU when they dismissed her from their program, they later settled to avoid the legal costs when she continued her legal battle.
Planned Parenthood describes this odious legislation this way:
Senate Bill 136, the so-called “Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act” is nothing more than a mechanism to ignore the beliefs of patients, infringe on the doctor patient relationship, and an egregious assault of the principle of health insurance coverage in this country—giving employers, facilities and health insurance companies carte blanche over peoples’ access to basic healthcare.
The legislation allows employers, facilities and health insurance companies to refuse to provide coverage for any essential healthcare service that they object to on the basis of religious beliefs or moral convictions. That means employers, facilities and insurance companies can not only deny access to abortion, but that they can deny access to any health care service, including birth control, HIV/AIDS treatment, vaccines, mammograms, cancer screenings or maternity care.
Right now, women who are survivors of sexual assault are not always provided with access to or information on emergency contraception. When a woman is raped and rushed to the hospital the last thing on her mind should be if the hospital will be able to provide her adequate care and birth control to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
Senate Bill 136 would eviscerate important protections for Michigan families. By allowing employers, facilities and health insurance companies to refuse coverage for any healthcare service, SB 136 would take these important protections away from Michigan families. SB 136 takes medical decision making out of the hands of patients and doctors and gives them to employers without offering any protections for employees and families to get the care they need.
Michigan families deserve quality healthcare, no matter where they work and where they seek care. Senate Bill 136 is designed to undermine this core principle and would represent an enormous step backwards for thousands of Michigan families.
Please, take a moment and tell your senator to vote NO on this dangerous legislation.
You can send a message to your senator HERE.
Perhaps more importantly, tomorrow, March 14, 2013, the Michigan Senate will hold a hearing on this legislation. Planned Parenthood is encouraging people to attend and even give testimony:
When: March 14, 2013 – 9:00-10:30 a.m.
Where: Senate Hearing Room, Ground Floor, Boji Tower, 124W. Allegan Street, Lansing, MI 48933
What: Tomorrow, Michigan’s Senate Health Policy Committee will take up a “Religious Refusal Bill” – introduced by Senator John Moolenar. This legislation would allow not only individual health care providers but ENTIRE INSTITUTIONS to deny any service they find objectionable.
There is already an exemption around abortion services. We are talking about allowing entire institutions to discriminate against women, against LGBT people, against…whoever they deem is seeking an “objectionable” service – a service like STD testing or birth control. It’s shameful!
Join us to speak out against this outrageous legislation that makes it legal to discriminate against patients seeking basic health care services!
You can RSVP on their Facebook event page HERE.
As I have said before and will repeat until they are out of power, the Michigan Republicans are drunk with power and working diligently to impose their version of “morality” on every person in Michigan. If you are a woman or a member of the LGBT community or a union member, they have a particularly keen interest in stripping away your rights and your access to the services that the rest of our state’s citizens enjoy. We have a LOT of work ahead of us between now and Election Day in November 2014. Part of that work is to show up and be heard when legislation like this is being discussed. Other bills have been significantly changed due to pressure from people attending hearings, contacting their legislators and making their voices heard. We simply cannot stop now.
If you are able, please do consider attending this hearing tomorrow. If you can’t, at least send your senator a message. It’s very important.