The House has approved a proposal its sponsor says will let medical workers refuse to participate in certain procedures if they have a religious objection.
The bill outlines several procedures including abortion, contraception, human cloning, embryonic stem-cell research and non-theraputic fetal experimentation.
Several House Democrats spoke against the legislation, saying it is an attack on women’s reproductive rights. Representative Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis) says the original bill allowed medical workers to opt out of any medical procedure, but the scope was narrowed. “We’re talking about only those procedures that are unique to women’s reproductive health.”
Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones (R-Eureka) sponsored the bill. He defends it, and his motives. “This bill has to do with protecting the religious liberties of workers, of employees and individuals. A bedrock principle upon which this nation was founded.”
Some Democrats tied the issue to the debate in Washington D.C. over religiously based institutions providing contraception to employees, but Jones maintained the bill was not about that. “I was working on this bill last November because of a situation that occurred in two different hospitals involving a group of female nurses who were forced to participate in an abortion procedure. They said they didn’t want to do that and they were terminated.”
Fourteen House Democrats voted with Republicans in passing the measure, 113-41. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.