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Pro-life group praises House passage of health workers' conscience rights legislation

Pro-life group praises House passage of health workers' conscience rights legislation

Dustin Hurst
March 18, 2010
Dustin Hurst
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March 18, 2010

In a statement to IdahoReporter.com, a pro-life group, Idaho Chooses Life, praised the passage of Senate Bill 1353, more commonly known as health workers' conscience rights legislation.  The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, and Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, will give medical workers, such as doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, the ability to conscientiously object to performing certain medical procedures or dispensing certain medicines.

Here is the text of the release sent to IdahoReporter.com:

“While faced with unprecedented threats from the federal government, the people of Idaho can be proud of the work done this year by Idaho legislators,” David Ripley said. Ripley is executive director of Idaho Chooses Life.  “By giving approval to both the Health Freedom Act (HB391) and the Freedom of Conscience legislation (SB1353) our elected officials have really stepped-up to provide strong leadership at a critical point in our history.”

A number of organizations backed Idaho Chooses Life’s effort to secure conscience protections, including the Christian Medical & Dental Association, Americans United for Life and Pharmacists for Life International.  The Catholic Diocese of Idaho and Right to Life Idaho also provided supporting testimony.

Dr. Karl Watts of Boise was one of numerous health care professionals who wrote legislators urging that SB1353 become law:

“The patient has rights and the provider also has rights.  What an atrocious environment we will create, open to all sorts of abuses, when providers are forced to do and provide treatment they view as wrong, either morally, ethically or scientifically,” wrote Dr. Watts.  He went on to point out that SB1353 affirmed the Code of Ethics adopted by the American Medical Association:  “Neither physician, hospital, nor hospital personnel shall be required to perform any act violative of personally held moral principles”.

Ripley also chastised the AARP for misleading seniors into thinking that SB1353 would force them into accepting treatment they did not want.

“Idaho’s Living Will law already allows a physician to withdraw from a treatment situation,” Ripley said.  “Nothing in this bill prevents a patient from making choices.  And no hospital in Idaho is going to ignore an advance directive.  But it does make it clear that none of us has the right to force another person to become an accomplice in ending a life prematurely.”

Ripley also pointed out that SB1353 could become an important part of protecting seniors against the threat of rationed care under a federalized health care system, which includes massive cuts to Medicare.

“It took a lot of work for legislators to get through all the smoke surrounding this bill,” Ripley concluded.  “We are grateful for their deep commitment to pro-Life principles.”

The legislation has been passed by both the House and Senate, and awaits the signature of Gov. Butch Otter.  Ripley was instrumental in crafting the legislation.

(Note: The legislation drew fire from the Idaho branch of the AARP.  Go here to read about the AARP's opposition to the bill.)

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