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Michigan Senate Committee Passes Religious Discrimination Bill

In a push to extend discrimination in the name of religious freedom to ridiculous levels, the Michigan Senate Committee on Health Policy passed SB 975. This would allow healthcare professionals to discriminate against a patient or coworker solely based “on religious beliefs, moral convictions or ethical principles sincerely held by an individual or entity.” The bill is the latest to make it legal in Michigan to discriminate against an individual on religious or moral grounds, and could lead to problems for not only the LGBT Community, but for many other groups as well.

According to Planned Parenthood in Michigan, the definition is so broad that a hospital could deny any service including emergency care if such care or the person involved violated the religious beliefs of the provider.

Director of Policy at Equality Michigan Emily Dievendorf stated

“At a time when our nation is having a conversation about providing better health care and access to it, extremists in Michigan are choosing to waste our money by doing the opposite and finding ways to keep people from potentially life-saving health care. In complete contrast with the Hippocratic Oath, Senator Moolenaar (R – Midland) is suggesting that we empower health professionals to first do harm by using a license to discriminate to turn away a patient based on any arbitrary criteria. Denying emergency room care to a Jewish patient care over disagreements on religious text is not what they had in mind when asking professionals to pledge to the Hippocratic Oath. This reprehensible bill must be stopped before it becomes embarrassingly clear that Michigan is a state which prefers hate over compassion.”

Mary Pollock of Michigan NOW noted that:

Some examples of what SB 975 would permit:
1) an insurer or employer could refuse to cover pregnancy costs associated with an out-of-wedlock pregnancy
2) an insurance company could refuse all coverage for gays or lesbians based on the religious objection of the insurance company
3) a doctor could refuse to provide services to a woman, a minority, or an HIV-positive person
4) a hospital could block doctors from treating miscarriages and late ectopic pregnancies. Women who need a life-saving abortion could quite literally be left to die, all in the name of “conscience.”

Another problem is that the bill could result in hospitals and other healthcare providers losing federal monies over such a policy.



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