A bill that got its first round of approval yesterday in the Missouri House says that anyone providing medical services can't be required to perform procedures that "violate his or her conscience or principles." At the center of this bill is a debate around abortion. But would the proposal block access to emergency contraception for rape victims?
Depends on who you ask.
Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri and other advocates have been spreading the word about the potential harms of the bill and how it could prevent women from accessing important health care options -- even victims of rape.
But what does the bill's sponsor, House Speaker Tim Jones, have to say about this question?
Jones, a Republican from Eureka, was not available for an interview yesterday and his staff declined to offer a specific comment in response to this question -- but did forward Daily RFT a segment from the hearing yesterday in which Representative Karla May, a St. Louis Democrat, brought up this very concern.
She asks: "If I came into the emergency room and I had just been raped and I asked for emergency...contraception, would there be somebody there that doesn't have a religious conscience against giving me what I feel I need and what I think is my right under law?"
Jones responds, "You're asking me if you'd be able to obtain that procedure?"
"Would I be able to obtain emergency contraception?" May says.
"Absolutely, this bill would not prevent that," Jones replies.
House Bill 457, as written:
specifies that any medical professional or health care institution that provides medical services, has the right not to participate in and cannot be required to participate in any phase of patient medical care, treatment, or procedure that violates his or her conscience including his or her religious, moral, or ethical principles that are adherent to a sincere and meaningful belief in God or in relation to a supreme being.
Continue for more details on the proposal and response from advocates.
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