Virginia enacts protection of conscience provision for genetic counsellors

 Governor’s attempt to force referral overridden by Senate

A bill concerning the regulation of genetic counselling in Virginia has been enacted with the original protection of conscience provision intact.  Identical versions of the bill had been passed unanimously by the Virginia House and Senate, but Governor Terry McAuliffe, apparently in response to lobbying from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood, attempted to insert a mandatory referral provision into the bill.  This was rejected by the Senate.  The law now requires an objecting counsellor to offer “to direct the patient to the online directory of licensed genetic counselors maintained by the Board.” [Family Foundation]

One thought on “Virginia enacts protection of conscience provision for genetic counsellors”

  1. This kind of provision of general information is not usually considered problematic by objectors because it avoids complicity in the act that follows. In contrast, they frequently refuse direct referral for a contested service because doing so makes them a party to something they believe to be wrong. The Virginia law is consistent with recommendations made by Holly Fernandez Lynch in Conflicts of Conscience in Health Care: An Institutional Compromise. Lynch recommends that state licensing boards should assume responsibility for connecting patients with health care workers willing to provide the services they want.

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