Top-ranking Mississippi, for example, scored a 20 out of 20 on laws that allow health care workers to refuse to take part in procedures or services that go against their religious beliefs.
By comparison, New York at No. 50 scored only a 5 out of 20 on health care exemption laws. Doctors in the Empire State have no legal protections if they were to refuse to perform sterilizations or prescribe contraception, nor does the state protect them from criminal liability if they refuse to perform abortions.
Five states — Alabama, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Washington — have enacted “general conscience provisions,” which do not specify the type of medical care covered but offer protection to those who refuse to take part in any medical services that are contrary to their beliefs.
Estelle explained that these five states “can be considered models,” for states considering enacting religious freedom protections for health care workers.
“The most extensive protection a state can provide to health care practitioners is a general conscience provision,” she told CNA.
A general conscience provision would protect health care practitioners who refuse to take part in transgender treatments, for example. Estelle said next year’s survey could conceivably reflect the public’s changing opinions about such treatments.
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