One of the more controversial proposals at the Missouri legislature this year is a GOP bill that would allow doctors to refuse to perform procedures that "violate his or her conscience or principles." Critics, like Planned Parenthood, say this is "denial of care" legislation that could prevent rape victims from accessing emergency contraception and even block care for women in life-threatening situations.
The bill's sponsor, House Speaker Tim Jones -- who has recently been active in fighting federal contraception mandates -- has said that the bill would not block rape victims from getting emergency contraception.
What does the Missouri Catholic Conference, which is actively supporting Jones, have to say about the impact on victims of rape?
"Obviously, those are difficult cases," Tyler McClay, general counsel, tells Daily RFT.
We recently spoke to McCay in the context of the legal battle to block President Barack Obama's health care law in Missouri as it relates to mandatory coverage of contraception.
A federal judge ruled last month that Missouri employers can't deny birth control coverage due to their religious beliefs -- overturning a state law that the decision said directly contradicted federal law.
The Missouri Catholic Conference, the public policy agency for the church in Missouri, slammed the ruling and urged the attorney general's office to appeal.
But what is the church's stance on House Bill 457 which establishes that doctors can decline certain care that violates their beliefs?
"The bill would allow a nurse to refuse to participate in giving any of those drugs," McClay tells us. "Whether that would mean the patient wouldn't get it is another question."
Critics of the bill argue that the proposal could directly block victims of rape from accessing the care that they need, if, for example, they don't have the means to find a second option when doctors refuse them, citing the moral conscience law.
"One individual person could say they are not comfortable giving Plan B, ella [birth control or other drugs]," argues McClay, adding, "I don't see anything about it that would be illegal."
Continue for more of our interview with Tyler McClay and for the full legislative proposal.
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