Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, introduced legislation Friday that would extend limited conscience protections in regards to abortions and end-of-life care to licensed health care professionals.
“No health care professional shall be required to provide any health care service that violates his or her conscience,” the bill states.
Doctors and hospitals are already protected under Idaho law, but this would extend those protections to nurses, nurses assistants, pharmacists — “any person licensed, certified or registered by the state of Idaho to deliver health care,” the bill states.
Winder said the bill is not intended to take away the rights of anyone, but to protect the rights of individuals in professional medical care.
The bill specifically relates to “anything that causes an abortion,” Winder said.
The bill includes provisions for emergency care when no other health care provider is available and it says that no health care professionals can be held liable for declining to provide health care services that violate his or her conscience except for life-threatening situations.
Sen. Kate Kelly, D-Boise, voted against introducing the bill in the Senate State Affairs Committee.
UPDATE: In response to a commenter, there is a section in the bill that does not allow a health care professional or employer of the health care professional to refuse to provide health care services because of a patient's race, color, religion, sex, age, disability or national origin.
Winder said he felt the bill was necessary because of a decision in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision, he said, made it clear that a right to conscience is not implied and it must be enacted through legislation.