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McMaster to sign bill allowing SC healthcare providers to deny services based on beliefs

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 5:56 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - Gov. Henry McMaster will soon sign a bill that would allow healthcare professionals to deny service on the basis of their beliefs.

A spokesperson with the governor’s office said he plans to sign the Medical Ethics and Diversity Act into law Friday.

The bill would authorize what’s known as “medical rights of conscience” in South Carolina. It would essentially protect doctors, nurses and medical students from being fired or punished for opting out of services based on their “religious, moral, or ethical beliefs or principles.”

State law already protects doctors, nurses and technicians from refusing to perform abortions - but the Medical Ethics and Diversity Act would add medical students to that list.

It would not, however, apply to emergency medical treatment that is required by federal law. The bill also states that practitioners are not allowed to refuse services on the basis of race.

A group of healthcare professionals and students previously asked McMaster to veto the bill, saying it could lead to a denial of care for services like gender-affirming care as well as life-saving medications to prevent and treat HIV.

The bill passed both the South Carolina House and Senate for the final time on Wednesday, according to public records.

Click here to read the bill in its entirety.

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