A group of medical professionals rallied today at the Capitol behind a bill that would establish the right for them to refuse to engage in activities that violate their conscience.
The news conference coordinated by the Nebraska chapter of Americans United for Life featured a wide range of medical professionals, from physicians to pharmacists. All gathered in support of LB 461, the Freedom of Conscience Act, sponsored by Sen. Pete Pirsch of Omaha.
Creighton Professor of Pharmacy Edward DeSimone stated those in the profession need such protection in Nebraska.
“One of the things that is really important, not only to have an act here, a law, that protects health professionals who make this decisions of conscience, but they need the protection from being fired, from being demoted, from being given odd shifts, from being sued,” according to DeSimone.
The bill would ban discrimination against any healthcare employee who decline to practice against his or her conscience. It also would allow a professional who believes his conscience has been violated to file a lawsuit in civil court.
Chief Medical Officer Barry Hoover with the Physician Network of Lincoln said medical professionals should never be forced to go against their beliefs.
“A physician should not be coerced to practice in such a way that violates his or her moral, ethical or religious beliefs. Such coercion violates the rights of the physician, impairs the patient-physician relationship and diminishes the availability and quality of health care in our society,” Hoover stated.
Americans United for Life State Director Suzanne Gage said Nebraska needs the protections LB 461 would provide.
“Protecting rights of conscience does not ban any procedure or prescription and does not mandate any particular belief or morality. Freedom of conscience simply provides American men and women the guarantees that this country was built upon: the right to be free from coercion,” Gage said.
The bill was introduced last year. It has not come to the floor for debate.
AUDIO: Americans United for Life Capitol news conference [14:30]