An Act relating to freedom of conscience; creating the Medical Ethics Defense Act; providing short title; defining terms; granting certain rights to certain medical practitioners, health care institutions, or health care payers; limiting exercise of certain rights; granting certain immunities; prohibiting certain discrimination; requiring opt-in for abortion; providing certain construction; prohibiting and requiring certain actions by licensing board under certain conditions; authorizing and prohibiting certain civil actions; prohibiting certain defense; providing for recovery of damages and other relief; providing severability; providing for codification; and providing an effective date. (FIL )
Eligible for a Floor Vote
2024 Regular Session
During the debate in the House Public Health Committee, the following points were brought up:
Physician shortages in rural areas: Chairwoman Roe expressed concerns about the broad reach of the bill, both in terms of moral applicability and staffing. She noted that in rural areas, clinics and healthcare providers are spread out over long distances, potentially leading to increased patient deaths if transfers become necessary due to moral conflicts. It was strongly rebutted that the proposed bill was simply a workplace protection measure, with heavy implications that healthcare is not a typical job field in Oklahoma.
Clinic shortages in insurance networks: It was noted that if a patient is turned away due to moral conflict, they would need to find a new provider within their insurance network, without any requirement for assistance in locating an accommodating provider. Questions were also raised about a health insurance company's ability to deny coverage based on moral grounds, with one representative asking whether moral grounds could be used as a veil to save money. The bill does not restrict care in emergency situations: The author asserted that the proposed bill does not allow for refusal in emergency settings, implying that providers would not allow a person to die in such situations. However, neither of these statements is found in the legislation and is not supported by Chairwoman Roe. The medical emergency law cited by the bill permits providers to deny an abortion under any circumstance.
Major procedures only: The author continuously implied that the law was intended to target major treatments that were morality-based. This was questioned by one representative who noted that the bill allowed coverage for anyone in the chain of care, including a person working at the front desk of an office.
Existence and lack of problems in other states: The author and invited guest asserted that states with similar laws have not experienced the consequences illustrated by the committee. Chairwoman Roe pointedly expressed that there is a first time for everything. When questioned about medical schools and residencies, both the author and guest cited no problems in other states.
Note: The author's guest was from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). The Oklahoma State Medical Association (OSMA) or any other medical association was not mentioned during the debate.
Bans reprimand against any person involved in the care of a patient who claims the care violates their conscience. Healthcare workers include (but not limited to) physicians, pharmacists, lab techs, pharmacy techs, counselors, and social workers.January 30, 2024
Kevin West – HD 54
David Bullard – SD 06