Little Rock’s NBC News affiliate reports:
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed new legislation that would allow doctors and other health care workers in Arkansas to refuse to perform certain services if they have “conscience-based objections.”
Senate Bill 289, also known as The Medical Ethics and Diversity Act, is a new version of a measure that was first presented in the 2017 legislative session.
There have been objections that the law would give medical providers broad powers to turn away LGBTQ patients and others. The new law will take effect until late this summer.
The ACLU of Arkansas reacts:
“There is no sugarcoating this: this bill is another brazen attempt to make it easier to discriminate against people and deny Arkansans the health care services they need,” said Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director.
“Religious liberty is a fundamental right, but it is not an excuse to discriminate against people or deny them health care. As Governor Hutchinson himself recognized when he opposed nearly identical legislation in 2017, discrimination is not an Arkansas value – no matter how politicians try to disguise it.
“Discrimination on the basis of sex – including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity – is a violation of federal law, and so we’ll be watching and working to ensure no Arkansan is denied life-saving health services because of who they are.”
BREAKING: Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday signed into law legislation allowing doctors to refuse to treat someone because of religious or moral objections. Details » https://t.co/Gmqra2rg6n
— AR Democrat-Gazette (@ArkansasOnline) March 26, 2021
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill into law on Friday that allows doctors to refuse to treat patients based on religious or moral objections, which critics say will open the door to discrimination against LGBTQ patients and others.@highbrow_nobrowhttps://t.co/KTHhv1kxuZ
— Ale (@aliasvaughn) March 26, 2021
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signs into law a bill allowing doctors to refuse to treat someone because of religious or moral objections; opponents say it will enable providers to turn away #LGBTQ patients.https://t.co/2IJCy3JMDy
— David Crary (@CraryAP) March 26, 2021