Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill into law Friday that allows medical doctors to decline to treat LGBTQ or other patents if their belief systems don’t align with the service being provided.
“I support this right of conscience so long as emergency care is exempted and conscience objection cannot be used to deny general health service to any class of people,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “Most importantly, the federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, and national origin continue to apply to the delivery of health care services.”
According to PBS, organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union have stepped forward to advocate against the bill, saying that it directly affects the LGBTQ community.
“There is no sugarcoating this: this bill is another brazen attempt to make it easier to discriminate against people and deny Arkansans the health care services they need,” ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director Holly Dickson said in a statement responding to the new bill.
Arkansas is poised to become the first and only state to criminalize health care for trans people.
It is up to Governor Hutchinson to veto the bill proposing this legislation. https://t.co/IheoshjkJZ
— ACLU (@ACLU) March 26, 2021
A final vote on Monday is set for another bill that will stop gender confirming treatments and surgery for minors in the state as well.
Hutchinson’s signing of the bill comes one day after he approved the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” which prohibits transgender women from participating in women’s sports in the state.