The House has passed its version of legislation to redefine what medical workers can choose not to do based on conscience.
The House version of conscience rights for medical workers legislation is sponsored by House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka). He says the bill strengthens the definitions of the medical procedures it allows workers to opt out of.
“Abortion, abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, sterilization which is not medically necessary, assisted reproduction, human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, human somatic cell nuclear transfer, fetal tissue research and nontheraputic fetal experimentation. That’s it. If it’s not in the bill, it’s not included and you can’t use it as the basis for your objection to that medical procedure.”
Jones says the bill could not be used to deny a woman access to emergency contraception in cases of rape. He says he has been assured, that is in keeping with Catholic doctrine.
“If it’s a rape then the idea is, under the doctrinal theory, that a pregnancy has not yet occurred so the drugs can be administered so the act of the pregnancy cannot occur with that short of a period of time, if you’re talking about the rape situation … I was told that directly from the Catholic authority. They showed me the directive.”
Several House Democrats speaking against the bill maintained it would deny emergency contraception.
Representative Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis) has opposed versions of this legislation in the past, and says this version causes her even greater concern.
“Remember the original bill was a conscience bill … that would allow any medical professional, any medical entity to refuse treatment for religious reasons. Because it had trouble in committee, this bill was narrowed to just deal with reproductive health … just deal with women.”
Jones tells the House his bill also specifically defines when a medical worker can and can not claim a conscience protection right.
The proposal goes to the Senate on a 116-41 vote, a great enough margin to overturn a Governor’s veto if no legislators change their votes. 11 Democrats voted for the bill.