Protection of Conscience Project
Protection of Conscience Project
Service, not Servitude

Service, not Servitude
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House Bill 1983 (2011)

Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act

Original Text

Arkansas Code Title 20 is amended to add an additional chapter to read as follows:

Health Care Freedom of Conscience Act
20-3-101. Title. 25

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act".

20-3-102. Legislative findings - Purposes.

(a) The General Assembly finds that:

(1) It is the public policy of Arkansas to respect and protect the fundamental right of conscience of all individuals who provide healthcare services; and

(2) Without comprehensive protection, healthcare rights of conscience may be violated in various ways, such as harassment, demotion, salary reduction, transfer, termination, loss of staffing privileges, denial of aid or benefits, and refusal to license or refusal to certify.

(b)(1) It is the purpose of this chapter to protect as a basic civil right the right of all healthcare providers, healthcare institutions, and healthcare payers to decline to counsel, advise, pay for, provide, perform, assist, or participate in providing or performing healthcare services that violate their consciences.

(2) Healthcare services may include without limitation abortion, artificial birth control, artificial insemination, assisted reproduction, human cloning, euthanasia, human embryonic stem-cell research, fetal experimentation, assisted suicide, and sterilization.

(c) It is the purpose of this chapter to prohibit all forms of discrimination, disqualification, coercion, disability, or liability upon such healthcare providers, healthcare institutions, and healthcare payers that decline to perform any healthcare service that violates their consciences.

20-3-103. Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

(1)(A) "Conscience" means the religious, moral, or ethical principles held by a healthcare provider, healthcare institution, or healthcare payer.

(B) For purposes of this chapter, a healthcare institution's or a healthcare payer's conscience shall be determined by reference to its existing or proposed religious, moral, or ethical guidelines, mission statement, constitution, bylaws, articles of incorporation, regulations, or other relevant documents;

(2) "Employer" means an individual or entity that pays for or provides health benefits or health insurance coverage as a benefit to its employees, whether through a third party, a health maintenance organization, a program of self insurance, or some other means;

(3) "Healthcare institution" means a public or private organization, corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, association, agency, network, joint venture, or other entity that is involved in providing healthcare services, including without limitation:

(A) An ambulatory surgical center;

(B) A clinic;

(C) A hospital;

(D) A medical center;

(E) A medical training facility;

(F) A nursing home;

(G) A nursing school;

(H) A pharmacy;

(I) A private physician's office;

(J) A university medical school; and

(K) Other institutions or locations in which healthcare services are provided;

(4) "Healthcare payer" means any entity or employer that contracts for, pays for, or arranges for the payment of, in whole or in part, any healthcare service or product, including without limitation:

(A) A health maintenance organization;

(B) A health plan;

(C) An insurance company; and

(D) A management services organization;

(5) "Healthcare provider" means any individual who may be asked to participate in any way in a healthcare service, including without limitation:

(A) A clinic employee;

(B) A counselor;

(C) A hospital employee;

(D) A medical assistant;

(E) A nurse;

(F) A nurse's aide;

(G) A nursing home employee;

(H) A pharmacist;

(I) A pharmacy employee;

(J) A physician;

(K) A physician's assistant;

(L) A researcher;

(M) A social worker;

(N) A student;

(O) An applicant to a school of health care;

(P) Medical or nursing school faculty; or

(Q) Any other person who furnishes or assists in the furnishing of healthcare services;

(6) "Healthcare service" means any phase of patient medical care, treatment, or procedure, including without limitation:

(A) Conducting research;

(B) Counseling;

(C) Diagnosing or providing prognoses;

(D) Dispensing or administering any device, drug, or medication;

(E) Instructing;

(F) Performing surgery;

(G) Performing therapy;

(H) Prescribing;

(I) Referring patients;

(J) Testing; or

(K) Other care or treatment rendered by healthcare providers or healthcare institutions;

(7) "Participate" means to counsel, advise, provide, perform, assist in, refer for, admit for purposes of providing, or participate in providing any healthcare service or any form of such service; and

(8) "Payment" means to pay, contract for, or otherwise arrange for the payment of in whole or in part.

20-3-104. Prohibition.

A person, an institution, a corporation, or a government entity shall not discriminate, disqualify, coerce, or cause a disability or liability upon a healthcare provider, healthcare institution, or healthcare payer that declines to perform a healthcare service that violates the conscience of the healthcare provider, healthcare institution, or healthcare payer.

20-3-105. Civil remedies.

(a) A civil action for damages or injunctive relief, or both, may be brought for a violation of this subchapter.

(b)(1) A person, an individual, an association, an agency, a corporation, an entity, or a health care institution injured by a public or private person, individual, association, agency, corporation, or entity by reason of conduct prohibited by this subchapter may bring a civil action.

(2) A court of competent jurisdiction may order injunctive relief in a civil action under this subchapter.