On May 19, 2009 the Louisiana legislature will hear House Bill 517, a measure designed to protect workers in the medical field to refuse services based on their religious beliefs. Services covered by the “Conscience in Healthcare” bill include, but are not limited to, abortion, dispensation of birth control, artificial insemination, sterilization, artificial reproductive technologies, human embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, fetal experimentation, euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.
PFLAG members from Lafayette, LA will travel to the state capitol today to voice their concerns to representatives that this bill will negatively affect the LGBT community. Joey Collins, president of the PFLAG Acadiana chapter says, this bill extends far beyond being a thinly veiled attack on reproductive rights. This affects every Louisiana citizen who enjoys the benefits of our health care system. It touches each and every one of us at our most vulnerable point. Therefore, it is imperative that we stand up to such blatant attacks on our basic human rights.
According to Medical News Today, the federal Civil Rights Act, the Hippocratic Oath and professional standards provide protections based on moral or religious objections. The bill’s author, Rep. Bernard LesBas, maintains that the bill will clarify those protections.
This bill comes amid the decision President Obama recently made to rescind a late-hour executive order by President Bush that would “strengthen conscious protections” by cutting federal funding for thousands of health care entities that did not specifically provide accommodations for workers who refused to participate in care they felt violated their religious beliefs.
This law could seriously affect a person’s access to healthcare, especially in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Julie Thompson, PFLAG New Orleans chapter leader, feels that this bill would "set health care in Louisiana back to the Middle Ages." Governor Jindal [pictured above] was at one time in charge of overseeing health care for the state. If this bill passes and he signs it, we will know that he does not have the health and welfare of his constituents at heart.
- Brooke Smith