Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, approved a last-minute amendment to a budget bill that allows medical providers and insurers "the freedom to decline to perform, participate in, or pay for any health care service which violates the practitioner's, institution's, or payer's conscience as informed by the moral, ethical, or religious beliefs," The Advocate reported, citing Rolling Stone.
The amendmentpart of a 700-page document of amendments to the budget bill DeWine signed into lawis widely viewed as a license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ patients and others.
The amendment's language was written to allow healthcare professionals the right to refuse specific "services," as opposed to refusing to treat a person or group of people because of a certain characteristic. The amendment also states that medical providers are "responsible for providing all appropriate [healthcare] services, other than the particular [healthcare] service that conflicts with the medical practitioner's beliefs or convictions, until another medical practitioner or facility is available."
However, as Rolling Stone noted, even if the medical professional does attempt to make that referral, a quarter of Ohio's population lives in rural counties, where LGBTQ-friendly medical care is sparse.
DeWine could have struck the language while signing the rest of the budget into law, but declined to do so, despite issuing 14 other line-item vetoes.
"With Ohio hospital and insurance associations standing against this dangerous measure, Governor DeWine is going against medical best practice and recommendations to score cheap political points," said HRC President Alphonso David in a statement. "The Human Rights Campaign will do everything in our power to fight this dangerous provision that threatens the wellbeing of so many people across the state of Ohio."