89th General Assembly
By: Representative D. Meeks
For An Act To Be Entitled
AN ACT TO CREATE THE HEALTHCARE FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE ACT; AND FOR OTHER
TO CREATE THE HEALTHCARE FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE ACT.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS:
Arkansas Code Title 20 is amended to add an additional chapter to read as
HEALTHCARE PROVIDER ETHICS
Subchapter 1 - Healthcare 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".
As used in this chapter:
(1) "Activity" means:
(A) Artificial birth control;
(B) Artificial insemination;
(C) Assisted reproduction;
(D) Human embryonic stem-cell research; and
(2)(A) "Conscience" means the religious, moral, or ethical principles
sincerely held by any healthcare professional or healthcare institution.
(B) For purposes of this section, a healthcare institution's conscience
shall be determined by reference to its religious, moral, or ethical
guidelines, mission statement, constitution, bylaws,
articles of incorporation, regulations, or other relevant documents;
(3) "Healthcare institution" means a public or private entity licensed or
certified to provide healthcare services in the State of Arkansas;
(4) "Healthcare professional" means a person licensed, certified, or
registered by the State of Arkansas to deliver health care;
(5) "Participate" means to provide, perform, assist in, admit for
purposes of providing, or participate in providing any activity; and
(6) "Religious, moral, or ethical principles", "sincerely
held","reasonably accommodate", and "undue hardship" mean the same as under
Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, 41 U.S.C. Â§ 2000e, et.
20-3-103. Healthcare Institution Conscience Protection.
(a) A healthcare institution may choose not to admit a patient or
may refuse to allow the use of the healthcare institution's facilities for
the performance of an activity that is contrary to the healthcare
(b) No healthcare institution shall be liable civilly, criminally,
or administratively for choosing not to admit a patient or refusing to allow
the use of the healthcare institution's facilities for the performance of an
activity that is contrary to the healthcare institution's conscience as
provided in subsection (a) of this section.
20-3-104. Healthcare Professional Conscience Protection.
(a) A healthcare professional may refuse to participate in an
activity that violates the healthcare professional's conscience if:
(i) The healthcare professional provides
advance written notice to his or her employer and each healthcare
institution in which the healthcare professional provides services of the
specific activity to which the healthcare professional objects; and
(ii) The healthcare professional's employer and each
1 of the healthcare institutions in which the healthcare professional
provides services can provide without creating undue hardship a reasonable
accommodation of the healthcare professional's objections.
(b) Except under subsection (c) of this section, a healthcare institution
and an employer of healthcare professionals shall reasonably accommodate the
conscience rights of a healthcare professional unless the healthcare
institution or employer can demonstrate that the accommodation 8 constitutes
an undue hardship.
(c) An employer shall not discriminate against a healthcare professional
based upon his or her refusal to participate in an activity that violates
the healthcare professional's conscience unless the employer designates
participation in an activity as a fundamental requirement for a position by
providing to the health professional a written certification that the
activity is directly related and essential to a core purpose of the
(d) A healthcare professional is not civilly, criminally, or
administratively liable for declining to participate in an activity, except
for life-threatening or emergency situations under subsection (e) of this
(e) If a healthcare professional invokes a conscience right in a
life-threatening or emergency situation in which no other healthcare
professional capable of treating the emergency situation is available, the
healthcare professional shall provide treatment and care until an alternate
healthcare professional capable of treating the patient is found.
This section does not affect a healthcare provider's or healthcare
institution's right of refusal under Â§ 20-16-601.