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

Service, not Servitude
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New Hampshire

House Bill 1653 (2012)

Health Care Freedom of Conscience

Note: On 27 June, 2012 the bill "died on the table."
AN ACT relative to the rights of conscience for medical professionals.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 Statement of Intent.

It is the purpose of this act to protect as a basic civil right the right of all health care providers and/or institutions, to decline to counsel, advise, pay for, provide, perform, assist, or participate in providing or performing health care services that violate their consciences. Such health care services may include, but are not limited to, abortion, artificial birth control, artificial insemination, assisted reproduction, human cloning, euthanasia, human embryonic stem-cell research, fetal experimentation, physician-assisted suicide, and sterilization.

2 New Chapter; Health Care Freedom of Conscience.

Amend RSA by inserting after chapter 126-U the following new chapter:

Health Care Freedom of Conscience
126-V:1 Definitions: In this chapter:

I. "Conscientiously object or conscientious objection" means to object because of a religious belief, or a moral, ethical or philosophical conviction.

II. "Health care institution" means any public or private organization, corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, association, agency, network, joint venture or other legal entity that is involved in providing health care services, including but not limited to: hospitals, clinics, medical centers, ambulatory surgical centers, private physician's offices, pharmacies, nursing homes, university medical schools and nursing schools, medical training facilities, or other institutions or locations wherein health care services are provided to any person.

III. "Health care provider" means any individual who may be asked to participate in any way in a health care service, including but not limited to: physician, physician's assistant, nurse, nurses' aide, medical assistant, hospital employee, clinic employee, nursing home employee, pharmacist, pharmacy employee, medical school student, medical school employee, or any professional, paraprofessional, or any other person who furnishes, or assists in the furnishing of, health care services.

IV. "Health care service" means the provision of any phase of patient medical care or treatment, including, but not limited to, the following: patient referrals, patient counseling, patient testing, patient diagnosis or prognosis, research, instruction, the prescription or administration of any device, drug or medication, or any combination of drugs or medications, performing surgery, or providing any other care or treatment rendered by health care providers or health care institutions, intended for the patient's physical, emotional, or mental well-being.

126-V:2 Health Care Provider's Right to Conscientiously Object.

I. A health care provider has the right to conscientiously object to participating in a health care service.

II. A health care provider who conscientiously objects to participating in any way in a health care service shall not be civilly or criminally liable to any person, estate, public or private entity, or public official.

III. It shall be unlawful for any person, health care provider, health care institution, public or private institution, public official, or national certifying board which certifies competency in medical specialties to discriminate against any health care provider in any manner based on his or her conscientious objection to participating in a health care service, including, but not limited to: termination, transfer, refusal of staff privileges at a health care institution, refusal of board certification, administrative action, refusal to provide standard residency training opportunities, or any other disciplinary action.

126-V:3 Civil Remedies.

I. A civil action for damages or injunctive relief, or both, may be brought for the violation of any provision of this chapter. It shall not be a defense to any claim arising out of the violation of this chapter that such violation was necessary to prevent additional burden or expense on any other health care provider, health care institution, individual, or patient.

II. Any individual, association, corporation, entity, or health care institution injured by any public or private individual, association, agency, entity, or corporation by reason of any conduct prohibited by this chapter may commence a civil action. Upon finding a violation of this chapter, the aggrieved party shall be entitled to recover threefold the actual damages, including pain and suffering, sustained by such individual, association, corporation, entity, or health care institution, the costs of the action, and reasonable attorney's fees; but in no case shall recovery be less than $5,000 for each violation in addition to costs of the action and reasonable attorney's fees. These damage remedies shall be cumulative, and not exclusive of other remedies afforded under any other state or federal law.

III. The court in such civil action may award injunctive relief, including, but not limited to, ordering reinstatement of a health care provider to his or her prior job position.

126-V:4 Severability.

If any provision of this chapter or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of the chapter which can be given effect without the invalid provisions or applications, and to this end the provisions of this chapter are severable.

3 Effective Date.

This act shall take effect January 1, 2013.