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California restricting state-funded travel to Ohio over “discriminatory” medical conscience clause

FILE - In this April 23, 2021, file photo, California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks in...
FILE - In this April 23, 2021, file photo, California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks in Sacramento, Calif. California added five more states, including Florida, to the list of places where state-funded travel is banned because of laws that discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community, the state attorney general announced Monday, June 28, 2021. Bonta added Florida, Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia to a list that now has 17 states where state employee travel is restricted. (Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool, File)(Paul Kitagaki Jr. | AP)
Published: Sep. 26, 2021 at 2:38 PM EDT
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (WTVG) - California is restricting state-funded travel to Ohio in protest of what officials called discriminatory legislation passed in Ohio.

California’s Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the state is restricting state-funded travel in response to Ohio’s House Bill 110, which allows Ohio medical providers to deny care to patients on moral grounds in what’s known as the “medical conscience clause” of the state budget. Officials and advocacy groups said the medical conscience clause discriminates against LGBTQ+ Americans.

It allows healthcare providers to refuse to provide or pay for a medical service if they believe doing so would violate their personal religious or ethical beliefs — and provides civil, criminal, and administrative immunity for refusing care.

The restrictions begin Sept. 30 and are required under California Law, according to the Attorney General’s office. Ohio became one of 18 states added to California’s list of states under the restrictions.

The state-funded travel restrictions were enacted by the California Legislature in an attempt to avoid supporting or financing discrimination against LGBTQ+ Americans. It prohibits state agencies, departments, boards, or commissions from allowing state-funded travel to states that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

“Blocking access to life-saving care is wrong. Period,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Whether it’s denying a prescription for medication that prevents the spread of HIV, refusing to provide gender-affirming care, or undermining a woman’s right to choose, HB 110 unnecessarily puts the health of Americans at risk.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine previously said he did not expect to see an issue with the clause, disagreeing with criticism it would hurt the LGBTQ+ community.

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

Evan Low, the Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, called Ohio’s medical conscience clause “toxic.”

“Ohio’s decision to condone attacks on the health of its nearly 400,000 LGBTQ+ residents was widely opposed by the state’s medical community,” Low said. “It’s plain that this law only serves to discriminate.”

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