By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, April 12, 2017, the Senate Health Committee gave a favorable report to House Bill 95 giving health care providers authority to decline to perform services that violate their consciences. The Health Care Rights of Conscience Act was sponsored by State Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).
Rep. Mooney said that most states already have a health care right of conscience act. There are not any lawsuits occurring in relation to this. This bill is very limited and not as broad as statutes in other states. The healthcare provider, that being an individual, can elect to opt out of participating in four specific areas if he or she objects in writing. This has to be on file with the personnel department. This does not apply to abortion clinics. They are exempt. Alabama is one of only three states that do not have some sort of conscience protection. Healthcare providers can opt to not participate in: abortions, human cloning, sterilizations
Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) is the Chairman of the Senate Health Committee. He said that the Senate has already passed an identical bill.
An Attorney at the Foundation for Moral Law, Matt Clark spoke in favor of the bill. Clark is from Prattville and is a former staff attorney at the Alabama Supreme Court. Clark said that this protects the religious and ethical consciences of healthcare workers. Our country, up to now, has always gone out of its way to protect rights of conscience. Since the Obergefell versus Hodges Supreme Court ruling however we have seen a great increase in hostility against people of faith.
The Reverend Tabitha Isner of Montgomery said that this is not an appropriate thing to legislate. She said, Let the family make their own conscience decisions. We are living in a world of free will. We teach our parishioners that faithfulness is not making decisions about the rights of neighbors. I ask that you vote no on this bill.
The Executive Director of Eagle Forum, Deborah Love, spoke in support of the bill. Eagle Forum supports the conscience rights of healthcare workers and the state should protect their perspective on bioethics and let them make their best medical judgement as individuals.
Senator Larr Stutts (R-Sheffield) motioned to give the bill a favorable report.
Senator Linda Coleman-Madison thought that this would create staffing problems at rural hospital and will not increase the quality of healthcare.
The motion to give the bill a favorable report passed on an 8 to 2 vote.
HB95 has already passed the House and next goes to the floor of the Alabama Senate.