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DeWine defends Ohio doctors denying care on moral grounds: ‘This is not a problem’

The medical conscience clause passed in Ohio’s new budget over the concerns of LGBTQ+ groups.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine(Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, The Ohio Channel)
Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 9:19 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WXIX) - Ohio healthcare providers can now refuse to treat or pay for a medical service if it violates their moral beliefs.

Gov. Mike DeWine unveiled Ohio’s $74.1 billion budget with 14 provisions vetoed but the so-called “medical conscience clause” intact on Thursday.

The clause (synopsis) permits Ohio physicians, hospitals and health insurance companies to refuse to provide or pay for a medical service if they believe doing so would violate their personal religious or ethical beliefs.

It also gives healthcare providers civil, criminal and administrative immunity for refusing care.

DeWine said in the budget unveiling press conference he does not foresee an issue with the clause despite criticism from LGBTQ+ advocates.

He said it’s akin to a doctor refusing to perform an abortion.

“Let’s say the doctor is against abortions, [then] the doctor is not doing abortions,” he said. “If there’s other things that maybe a doctor has a problem with, it’s worked out. Somebody else does those things. This is not a problem. This has not been a problem in the state of Ohio, and I do not expect it to be a problem.”

But in some rural Ohio counties, finding even one primary care doctor is a challenge, which could make access to care more difficult—whether emergency care, family planning services, pharmacy orders for birth control or hormone treatments.

Equality Ohio, a prominent LGBTQ+ advocacy group, called the cause a “license to discriminate” against LGBTQ+ Ohioans.

Dominic Detwiler, Equality Ohio public policy strategist, told the Columbus Dispatch in mid-June the clause was placed in the budget bill only because its authors knew “they couldn’t pass this on its merits as a standalone bill, because literally no one is asking for this to be passed.”

But DeWine disagreed on Thursday in the budget unveiling press conference.

The governor said all the clause does is codify what is already true “in the real world” and that “most of those rights are not only recognized and exercised by medical professionals, but they’re being accepted by other medical professionals.”

He continued: “People are not going to be discriminated against in regards to medical care. We have a vibrant medical care system in the state of Ohio. We have great doctors. We have great nurses. We have great systems.”

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