A controversy regarding patient’s rights is brewing in Idaho after the State House passed a bill that allows all healthcare professionals—including dieticians and pharmacists—to refuse to provide care that violates their conscience.
In addition to end-of-life care, SB 1353 extends the provisions to abortion and emergency contraception, permitting any licensed healthcare provider to refuse to provide a treatment or medication on conscience grounds.
“The intent of this legislation is not to restrict or limit in any way healthcare services to women or men in Idaho,” said lead sponsor Senator Chuck Winder, a Republican, quoted by The Spokesman Review.
He specified that he considered the bill as “an attempt to correct what we perceived to be an oversight,” as the current state law permits doctors or hospital workers to refuse to participate in treatments, but does not cover all licensed healthcare professionals.
However, critics have alleged it will allow providers to override a family’s or a patient’s decisions expressed in living wills or through advance directives.
“The Idaho House said it’s all right for healthcare professionals to ignore the wishes and instructions of their patients—and that’s a dangerous direction for healthcare in our state,” said Jim Wordelman, state director for AARP in Idaho.
The organization has urged Idahoans to contact the governor’s office and urge him to remove the contentious language or veto the bill.