I'm so pissed. What the fuck is going on in Michigan. Everything around
here is full of homophobic assholes. I read an article today...this
bill called the Conscientious Objector Policy Act gives the rights to any doctorto REFUSEhealth
care to any homosexual. It has passed the house and is moving on to the
senate. Any good Doctor will stick to their Democratic Oath and
give ethe care.
At the end of the article attached is a number and a website to visit
to try to help veto or encourage a vote against this Act. Don't let
House bill gives health care workers conscientious objector
Providers could refuse to treat LGBT patients
By D'Anne Witkowski
Originally printed 4/29/04 (Issue 1218 )
LANSING - The Michigan House passed four bills on
April 21 that could negatively impact health care for LGBT people in the state.
The bills were passed by a vote of 69 to 35 in the Republican controlled House.
They now head to the Senate, which is also held by a Republican majority. The
main bill, House Bill 5006, is termed the Conscientious Objector Policy Act. It
allows health care providers to opt out of health care services based on their
"ethical, moral, or religious belief system."
"That's not defined in the
statues and it can be interpreted very broadly," said Jay Kaplan, staff attorney
for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan's LGBT legal project. "None
of this is based on medical ethics. It's based on someone's privately held
According to Donald Hitchcock, National Field Director for the
National Coalition for LGBT Health, allowing medical providers to opt out of
procedures that are against their ethical, moral, or religious beliefs is not
new. "The classic case is to not make someone provide abortions who morally
objects to abortions but can meet all other requirements of a job," he said.
"That same nurse cannot, however, refuse to care for a patient that she knows
had an abortion. This is what would be new, if the Michigan bill is accurately
represented. It would allow one to not just opt out of certain procedures but
also opt out of treating people who offend one's religious, moral, or ethical
principles. LGBT people are not the only ones who could suffer if that became
law." He said it is important to understand the distinction between procedures
and people when considering the impact of this bill.
The bill was pushed
by the Michigan Catholic Council, which objects to abortion and birth control.
Although the bill says health care providers cannot refuse to provide birth
control, it does not exempt emergency contraception.
In an April 22
statement on their web site, the Michigan Catholic Conference said, "Religious
freedom was defended April 21 as the House of Representatives passed legislation
that protects a health care right of conscience for institutional and individual
health care providers. The Michigan Catholic Conference believes that such
providers can and should maintain their mission of providing critically needed
services without compromising faith-based teaching."
In order to opt out
on moral and religious grounds, a health care provider must put his or her
objections in writing at least 24 hours before the health practice deemed
objectionable is scheduled to occur. The conscientious objector status does not
apply in the case of public health emergencies or when a patient needs immediate
care and there is no other provider available at the time. A health care
provider is also not allowed to object to treating any group of patients who are
covered under the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights act. They also cannot exclude
specific diseases or medical conditions.
Since LGBT people are not
covered by the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights act, some LGBT leaders believe this
could allow health care providers to refuse to treat LGBT people.
press release, Kathleen DeBold, executive director of the Mautner Project for
Lesbian Health said the passage of the bill sent a frightening and inhumane
message to medical practitioners throughout the state. "By codifying
discrimination in healthcare, this measure not only tramples the Hippocratic
Oath that each physician is sworn to uphold, it puts this medically underserved
population at even greater risk of serious illness - and worse," she said.
"Denying health care coverage to any segment of the nation's population is a
very dangerous precedent to set, and I hope that members of the Michigan Senate
see this legislation for what it is - discrimination, dangerous and morally
Laura Kane-Witkowski, Health Services Coordinator at
Affirmations Lesbian & Gay Community Center, said she fears this bill could
set back the progress she has seen in the medical community regarding LGBT
health issues. "The health care field in general is starting to slowly make some
progress as far as being concerned about LGBT sensitivity issues," she said. "My
big concern is that this bill is going to be a one way ticket to saying, 'Well,
I don't have to care about that any more. That's not something my staff has to
spend any time on because we don't have to do it.' It's so much easier to say,
'I don't feel comfortable with this and I don't morally want to treat gay
people.' It takes a lot more effort and work to set that aside and treat people
as people first."
According to Kaplan, this bill is a threat to the
medical health and safety of Michigan citizens. "The way it would work is health
care providers could refuse to provide certain services for LGBT patients," he
He gave several examples of services that might be denied to LGBT
people including safer sex counseling for HIV/AIDS prevention, artificial
insemination or fertility treatment, and hormone therapy or sexual reassignment
Kaplan also pointed out that patients don't have to be given a
referral should treatment or care be denied. "It allows health care entities to
refuse to provide information about health care alternatives," he said. "You're
talking about access to basic medical care and when you create these exceptions
you're obstructing a patient's access to medical care and you're also preventing
them from making their own heath care decisions."
Abortion was the bill's
original target, Kaplan believes. "It's really part of the right to life
movement. But certainly a part of this is because gays and lesbians aren't
covered under the Elliot-Larsen act, they're also fair game to be refused
medical services," he said. "It's pushing a narrow agenda that really endangers
peoples' health and their lives."
Openly gay Representative Chris Kolb
(D-Ann Arbor) shares Kaplan's concerns.
"I have no insight into someone's
intentions, but regardless of whether they intended it or not, if left as
written it poses a major problem for gay and lesbian people seeking health
care," he said. He added that LGBT people in rural areas are at an increased
risk since they have fewer health care options.
Kolb said the bill put a
health care provider's concerns over a patient's needs. "The bill on a whole is
just not, I believe, good public policy," he said. "I am hoping that the bill
will die and it if it doesn't die they need to address this glaring
Republicans for: (61) Acciavatti, Amos, Bradstreet,
Brandenburg, Casperson, Caswell, Caul, DeRoche, Drolet, Ehardt, Emmons, Farhat,
Gaffney, Garfield, Hager, Hart, Hoogendyk, Howell, Huizenga, Hummel, Hune, Rick
Johnson, Ruth Johnson, Julian, Koetje, Kooiman, LaJoy, LaSata, Meyer, Middaugh,
Milosch, Moolenaar, Mortimer, Newell, Nitz, Nofs, Palmer, Palsrok, Pappageorge,
Pastor, Pumford, Richardville, Robertson, Rocca, Shackleton, Shaffer, Sheen,
Shulman, Stahl, Stakoe, Steil, Stewart, Tabor, Taub, VanderVeen, VanRegenmorter,
Voorhees, Walker, Ward, Wenke, Woronchak
Democrats for: (11)
Bieda, Brown, Condino, Gillard, Gleason, O'Neil, Rivet, Sak, Sheltrown, Spade,
Democrats against: (32) Accavitti, Adamini, Anderson,
Byrum, Clack, Dennis, Elkins, Farrah, Gieleghem, Hardman, Hood, Hopgood, Hunter,
Jamnick, Kolb, Law, Lipsey, McConico, Meisner, Minore, Murphy, Phillips, Plakas,
Reeves, Smith, Tobocman, Vagnozzi, Waters, Whitmer, Williams, Woodward, Zelenko.
Two Republicans (Bisbee and DeRossettdid) and three Democrats (Cheeks,
Daniels, and Stallworth) did not vote.
Bill 5006, the Conscientious Objector Policy Act, is now headed to the Senate
for a vote. It is essential that you contact your Senator and urge them to vote
against this bill. You should also contact Governor Granholm's office and urge
her to veto this bill should it pass.
To find your Senator call
517-373-2400 or visit http://senate.michigan.gov. You can contact Governor
Jennifer Granholm's office by mail at P.O. Box 30013, Lansing, Michigan 48909 or
by calling 517-373-3400 or faxing 517-335-6863.
Actually, this has been very thoroughly reported in several communities since I made the initial post here on April 22nd. If you would like to see how an actual medical student is reaction, check out my post here on the 30th.