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Legislative Committee Takes First Step to Protect Medical Rights of Conscience in Florida

Natalie Allen
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The HELP Act ensures that medical professionals and organizations cannot be forced to participate in health care services that violate their conscience.

Last week, the Florida House Professions & Public Health Subcommittee took an important step in enacting conscience protections for medical professionals in Florida by passing the Healthcare Ethics and Liberty Protection Act (the HELP Act).

The HELP Act ensures that medical professionals and organizations cannot be forced to participate in health care services that violate their conscience.

Before the committee voted to pass the bill, several Floridian doctors gave public testimony in support of passing conscience protections. The doctors shared heart-wrenching stories about how their medical careers were shaped by schools, hospitals, and supervisors who forced the doctors to choose between their personal beliefs and their medical professions.

One doctor shared with Alliance Defending Freedom a devastating experience from his time in medical school where he was forced to participate in an abortion procedure, in direct conflict with his pro-life beliefs:

“It was wrong for me to have been there, to stand by while a life was taken and a young woman harmed. I felt that I had no choice. One of my classmates … had the courage to say that he would not go. He had to appeal to the Dean of the medical school and after a protracted battle was able to abstain from the requirement. He paid a price for his courage. He was ostracized for the rest of his medical school education.”

Sadly, these stories are not uncommon. In fact, 36% of Christian medical students say they have experienced discrimination or pressure during medical school. This is exactly why such legislation is needed.

The freedom to live and work consistent with one’s conscience is at the heart of what motivates many who enter the medical field, a profession full of individuals who dedicate their lives to healing and doing no harm.

No one should be forced to choose between their faith and their profession.

See why the freedom to practice medicine in accordance with one’s beliefs is critical:

Last year, Arkansas and Ohio enacted conscience protections for medical professionals in their states. As these bills were passed, opponents claimed the legislation would allow medical workers to deny care to LGBTQ patients. Similar claims were raised in last week’s hearing in Florida.

Let’s be clear: the HELP Act simply allows doctors, nurses, and certain other medical professionals to decline to perform procedures that violate their conscience. The Act is specifically limited to conscience-based objections to particular health care services. In other words, doctors can choose not to provide a particular health service to which they have a conscience objection, but they cannot refuse care to a person.

At its core, the HELP Act is designed to ensure that doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals aren’t forced to leave their ethics and religious beliefs at the door when they serve their patients.

At the hearing, one representative explained his vote in support of the HELP Act saying, “Physicians are not robots; they’re not machines. They are men and women who took an oath to provide care to all persons to the best of their abilities. … This bill honors that [and] honors the oath that these physicians have taken.”

Medical professionals and elected officials around the country are bravely taking a stand for rights of conscience for the medical professionals in their states.

Click below to learn more about how you can advocate for medical rights of conscience in your state.

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Natalie Allen, Legislative Communications & Initiatives Manager
Natalie Allen
Legislative Communications & Initiatives Manager
Natalie Allen serves as Legislative Communications & Initiatives Manager at Alliance Defending Freedom.