Ohio Republicans have added a provision to the state’s two year budget bill that would allow doctors and insurance providers to refuse to perform and pay for abortions if abortion violates their moral or religious beliefs.
State Sen. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) is responsible for the new language in the bill, according to The Columbus Dispatch. That language would also protect doctors and insurance companies from lawsuits by those to whom they refuse service, the report said.
The Ohio GOP defended the move as a protection of individual liberty and freedom of religion.
“It’s disturbing that we’ve watched big government bureaucrats try to force health care organizations and doctors into providing services they didn’t offer because of… religious reasons,” said John Fortney, a spokesman for the Ohio Senate GOP. “This simply makes it clear, that the First Amendment matters, and bureaucrats should respect the Constitution.”
Detractors from the provision say it does not belong in the budget bill in the first place.
“They know that they couldn’t pass this on its merits as a standalone bill, because literally no one is asking for this to be passed,” Dominic Detwiler, a strategist for Equality Ohio reportedly said.
That group is a pro-LGBT organization, which also opposes the bill.
“It’s another way, another opportunity for health care providers to discriminate against LGBTQ people,” Detwiler said. “Seeing the Senate kind of encourage people to discriminate against others is really just not the right direction.”
According to Detwiler, the bill is discriminatory because members of the LGBT community might have HIV, and according to him, might be refused service on those grounds.
But that is not the case according to Aaron Baer, president of the Center for Christian Virtue.
“It focuses on the procedure not the person,” he reportedly said. “It’s actually insane what they are saying. If you deny someone a service because he is gay, you have no protection under this.”
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is against the new provision in the bill, too.
“This bill creates even more places that can put people’s health and life in danger. This is a direct risk for the health of Ohioans,” Jaime Miracle, that group’s deputy director, reportedly said.
Last week, a separate provision was added into the budget by the Senate Republicans that would effectively ban two individual abortion clinics from operating.
That provision would ensure that any abortion clinic that does not have a hospital nearby for emergencies would have to provide proof that emergency physicians lived within 25 miles of the clinic, and that those physicians did not teach at public universities or hospitals.
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