Sen. Murman proposes letting Nebraska providers deny health care over moral objections

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — It was another contentious day at the State Capitol on Friday, when another controversial bill took center stage. 

The Health and Human Services Committee held a hearing on a proposal that would allow doctors or hospitals to deny medical care they morally disagree with.  

Sen. Dave Murman introduced LB 810, the Medical Ethics and Diversity Act.

He said it’s about the “right of conscience” for health care workers, which the proposal says is an “unalienable right.”

The bill would allow medical staff and administration to deny care to patients based on their individual ethics.

Under the bill, doctors, nurses and insurance companies could cite any religious, moral or ethical reason to refuse service.

The bill ensures that those in the medical field would not be fired or otherwise punished for refusing care based on personal ethics.

A representative of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group, said the bill would prevent medical staff from the ethical dilemmas they routinely face.

“Protecting the right of conscious of doctors and nurses to decline to provide specific medical procedures that violate their conscience,” said Stephanie Nichols, the group’s legal counsel. “Protecting doctors and nurses from being suddenly forced or coerced to participate in an abortion and protecting the First Amendment right of doctors and nurses except in situations where harm to their patients might result. ”

Medical providers who decline patient care would be required to have policies in place to refer patients to other health care professionals.

But opponents say patient care would be greatly affected if the bill passed.

The bill is not exclusive to doctors, nurses and pharmacists; it extends to workers who approve prescription insurance claims.

“It’s difficult to imagine a service that could not be permissibly refused under this bill, and as you’ve heard from testifiers before me, this bill applies more broadly than providers,” said Sarah Maresh of Nebraska Appleseed. “It also applies to entire institutions and even payers and insurers, who could broadly deny paying for types of services.”

Some are also worried that referring patients poses a significant threat to those who may need to be treated immediately.

When patients are redirected, it can take time to take off work again, hire a babysitter or find transportation, especially if they live in a rural area, where the number of providers is limited.

Read LB 810 here:


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