SC Senate set to debate bill to expand creed protections for healthcare professionals
COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — State senators have voted to fast-track a bill that would expand medical conscience law in South Carolina.
The legislation has been set for special order and will take priority when the Senate returns to Columbia on Tuesday. H.4776 passed in the House in March, the vote was mostly along party lines.
The “Medical Ethics and Diversity Act” would allow a physician, health care facility, or health care payer to refrain from participating in or paying for any health service that violates the conscience of the practitioner or of the entity.
Currently, the exception applies to physicians. Proponents of the legislation argue that it should apply to all healthcare professionals. At a House Judiciary Committee meeting earlier this year, Rep. John McCravy (R-Greenwood) said, “Times have changed. People are asking for procedures that we never thought of in the past. Some people can’t imagine. They think it is necessary to prevent them from doing these other procedures without going into details.
Critics said the legislation was unnecessary and could be used to discriminate against the transgender community in South Carolina. Rep. Justin Bamberg (D-Bamberg) said, “This is a bill as I see it that targets certain people because certain people don’t agree with their lifestyle or what happens.”
Last year, senators tabled a complementary bill. This was in response to the city of Columbia banning the practice of conversion therapy for minors through a city ordinance. This bill and the House version say:
“The licensing and regulation of medical practitioners and the provision of health care services, as defined in section 44-139-20, is expressly pre-empted by the State. A county, municipality or other political subdivision may not adopt or enforce any ordinance, resolution, rule or policy that restricts, limits, controls, directs or otherwise interferes with the type and scope of health care services provided by a physician or the professional conduct and judgment of a physician in the provision of health care services.
This means that state law would supersede any city ordinance.
There are three days left in the legislative session.