COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — An Ohio statute allowing medical providers to deny treatment that defies their beliefs was slapped with a lawsuit Wednesday.
Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein filed suit against the state of Ohio over its “Conscience Clause,” enacted in a September budget bill to permit health care providers to decline services or treatments that violate their moral, ethical, or religious beliefs, according to the Ohio Revised Code.
Klein, who filed suit in the Franklin County Court of Commons Pleas, said the bill violates both the Ohio and U.S. Constitutions, along with the Affordable Care Act, and opens the door to the denial of vaccines, birth control, blood transfusions, or counseling for transgender individuals.
“Health care professionals live by an oath to do no harm, but the Conscience Clause writes harm into our laws and allows medical professionals and insurance companies to deny care based on beliefs not backed by science or medicine. It’s dangerous, discriminatory, and unconstitutional,” Klein said in a news release. “It must be repealed to ensure everyone can access the care they need regardless of who they are or what they believe.”
Attorney General Dave Yost chastised the lawsuit in a news release, claiming Columbus’ legal challenge against the clause “seeks to cancel” health care providers for abiding by their beliefs and principles.
Yost derided the lawsuit as “meritless, anti-democracy and authoritarian.”
“It is amazing how little rights of conscience matter to those without one,” Yost said. “This law was thoroughly vetted, is grounded in historical constitutional bedrock, and passed by the elected representatives of the people of Ohio through the normal legislative process.”