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GOP Governor Signs Bill Allowing Doctors to Refuse Treatment Due to Moral Objection

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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday signed into law legislation allowing doctors to refuse to treat someone because of religious or moral objections.

The measure says health care workers and institutions have the right to refuse to participate in non-emergency treatments that violate their conscience. The new law won’t take effect until late this summer.

Hutchinson opposed a similar measure in 2017 that failed before a House committee. But he said the law he signed was narrower and limits the objections to particular health care services, not treating specific types of people.

“I support this right of conscience so long as emergency care is exempted and conscience objection cannot be used to deny general health service to any class of people,” Hutchinson said in a statement released by his office.

“Most importantly, the federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, and national origin continue to apply to the delivery of health care services.”

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Opponents of the law, including the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union, have said it will allow doctors to refuse certain treatments to LGBT patients. The state Chamber of Commerce also opposed the measure.

“There is no sugarcoating this: this bill is another brazen attempt to make it easier to discriminate against people and deny Arkansans the health care services they need,” ACLU of Arkansas executive director Holly Dickson said in a statement.

The ACLU did not say whether it planned any legal action to try to block the law before it takes effect.

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Hutchinson on Thursday signed a law that will prohibit males who identify as female from competing in girls’ and women’s sports.

A final vote is scheduled Monday on another proposal that would prohibit gender transition treatments and surgery for minors.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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