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Politics & Government

State Senate passes bill allowing doctors to refuse care for moral or ethical reasons

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Michigan faces a physician shortage by 2020

A bill in the state Legislature would let health care providers, facilities, or insurers deny service based on religious, moral or ethical objections. The state Senate passed the bill Thursday.

Republican state Senator John Moolenaar is sponsoring the bill.   

“This legislation before you today will establish a solid, yet workable framework for protecting the fundamental rights for all Michigan citizens,” Moolenaar said.

Critics of the bill say it would let entire health systems deny care.

Democratic state Senator Rebekah Warren said the measure is dangerous, and goes beyond protecting individual doctors’ rights.

“Some religions don’t believe in blood transfusions. If you have a health care condition where you need a blood transfusion and you have no one on staff who’s willing to give that for you, where do you stand?” said Warren.

Others worry that the bill would effectively sanction discrimination.

They point to a provision in the bill that would protect against civil, criminal, and administrative liability for individuals and facilities that choose to deny care.

The measure would not apply to emergency situations, and providers would have to let patients know where they can go for treatment.

It now goes to the state House.

The state Senate also passed a package of abortion-related bills. It would restrict insurance plans on an upcoming health exchange from covering elective abortions. That’s unless the coverage is offered as a separate, optional rider.

*This post has been updated

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