Fighting Discrimination

A new Fla. law invites religious interference in health care

  Rob Boston

Imagine being in a serious accident. You’re losing blood and barely conscious. Then an ambulance pulls up. An emergency medical technician dashes out. He takes a look at you and does … nothing. You see, he’s determined that you’re gay or transgender and says he has a religious or moral objection to treating you. So, he leaves.

Ridiculous, right? That could never happen in America!

Wrong. It will be able to happen in Florida starting July 1, thanks to a new law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

‘Let them die’

The so-called Protections of Medical Conscience Act – dubbed the “Let Them Die Act” by its opponents – allows health care providers and entities that pay for health care, such as insurance companies, to offer care “in a manner consistent with their moral, ethical, and religious convictions.”

The law defines health care very broadly, saying it includes “but [is] not limited to, medical research, medical procedures, testing, diagnosis, referral, dispensing medications, therapy, recordkeeping, and ‘any other care or service.’”

AU weighs in

In an April 26 letter, Americans United warned Florida legislators that the bill would create “a serious threat to the health and well-being of patients.”

AU’s letter observed, “Under the bill, a wide range of health care workers, facilities, hospitals, and insurers could refuse to participate in or pay for nearly any health care service. The result – patients would face serious harm. It would foster discrimination against patients – particularly women and LGBTQ patients – by putting the religious beliefs of health care providers, institutions, and insurers above their health.”

The law is one of several anti-LGBTQ measures that have been passed in Florida, where DeSantis is hard at work turning the state into a giant laboratory for Christian Nationalist policy. Christian Nationalist legislators in other states are gleefully pointing to the Sunshine State as a model.

Take a good look, America. Is this what you want?

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