Senate Bill 292 (2015)
Conscientious Objection Act
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THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA SENATE
BILL No. 292
INTRODUCED BY EICHELBERGER, VOGEL, HUTCHINSON, BROWNE, VULAKOVICH,
ALLOWAY, AUMENT, RAFFERTY, STEFANO, FOLMER, SCARNATI AND WHITE, JANUARY
Providing for freedom of conscience of health care providers and health
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby enacts as
Section 1. Short title.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the Conscientious Objection
Section 2. Legislative findings and purpose.
(a) Findings.--The General Assembly finds as follows:
(1) It is the public policy of the Commonwealth to respect and protect
the fundamental right of conscience of individuals who and institutions
which provide health care services.
(2) Without comprehensive protection, rights of conscience of health care
providers or institutions 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.
(3) It is the purpose of this act to protect, as a basic civil right, the
right of all health care providers and institutions to decline to counsel,
advise, provide, perform, assist or participate in providing or performing
health care services that violate their consciences.
(b) Purpose.--It is the purpose of this act to prohibit all forms of
discrimination, disqualification, coercion, disability or liability upon
such health care providers and institutions that decline to perform any
health care service that violates their conscience.
Section 3. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this act shall have the
meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly
"Conscience." The religious, moral or ethical
principles held by a health care provider or a health care institution. A
health care institution's religious, moral or ethical principles shall be
stated in the institution's mission statement, constitution, bylaws,
articles of incorporation, regulations, directives or other relevant
documents or guidelines under which it operates.
institution." A public or private organization, corporation, partnership,
sole proprietorship, association, unincorporated association, agency,
network, joint venture or other entity that is involved in providing
health care services, including, but not limited to, hospitals, clinics,
medical centers, ambulatory surgical centers, private physicians'
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.
"Health care provider." An
individual who may be asked or assigned to participate in any way in a
health care service, including, but not limited to, a physician,
physician assistant, nurse, nurses' aide, medical assistant, hospital
employee, clinic employee, nursing home employee, pharmacist, pharmacy
employee, researcher, medical or nursing school faculty, student or
employee, counselor, social worker or any professional or
paraprofessional, or any other person who furnishes or assists in the
furnishing of health care services.
"Health care service." Any phase of
patient medical care, treatment or procedure relating to abortion,
artificial birth control, artificial insemination, assisted reproduction,
emergency contraception, human cloning, human embryonic stemcell
research, fetal experimentation and sterilization and including, but not
limited to, patient referral, counseling, therapy, testing, diagnosis,
prognosis, research, instruction, prescribing, dispensing or
administering a device, drug, or medication, surgery, or any other care
or treatment rendered by health care providers or health care
"Participate." To counsel, advise, provide, perform, assist
in, refer or admit for purposes of providing, transfer or participate in
providing, a health care service or a form of such service.
Freedom of conscience of health care providers.
(a) Freedom of
conscience.--A health care provider has the right not to participate, and
no health care provider may be required to participate, in a health care
service that violates the health
care provider's conscience.
(b) Immunity from liability.--There shall be
no cause of action against a health care provider for declining to
participate in a health care service that violates the health care
provider's conscience. A health care provider that declines to provide or
participate in a health care service that violates the health care
provider's conscience may not be civilly, criminally, professionally or
(c) Discrimination.--It shall be unlawful for a
person, health care provider, health care institution, public service
institution, professional organization, public official or board that
certifies competency in medical specialties to discriminate against a
health care provider in any manner based on the health care provider's
declining to participate in a health care service that violates the
health care provider's conscience. Types of discrimination include, but
are not limited to, termination, transfer or refusal of staff privileges,
refusal of board certification, adverse administrative action, demotion,
loss of career specialty, reassignment to a different shift, reduction of
wages or benefits, refusal to award a grant, contract or other program,
refusal to provide residency training opportunities, denial, deprivation,
suspension or disqualification with respect to licensure or government
certification or any other penalty, disciplinary or retaliatory action.
Section 5. Freedom of conscience of health care institutions.
of conscience.--A health care institution has the right not to
participate, and no health care institution may be required to
participate, in a health care service that violates its conscience.
(b) Immunity from
liability.--There shall be no cause of action against a health care
institution for declining to participate in a health care service that
violates its conscience if the institution has a notice clearly posted
stating it reserves the right to decline to provide or participate in
health care services that violate its conscience. A health care
institution that declines to provide or participate in a health care
service that violates its conscience may not be civilly, criminally or
(c) Discrimination.--It shall be unlawful for
a person, public or private institution or public official to
discriminate against a health care institution, or a person, association,
corporation or other entity attempting to establish a new health care
institution or operating an existing health care institution, in any
manner including, but not limited to, any denial, deprivation or
disqualification with respect to licensure, any aid assistance, benefit
or privilege, including staff privileges, or any authorization, including
authorization to create, expand, improve, acquire, affiliate or merge
with a health care institution, because the health care institution, or
person, association or corporation planning, proposing or operating a
health care institution, declines to participate in a health care service
that violates the health care institution's conscience.
(d) Denial of
aid or benefit.--It shall be unlawful for a public official, agency,
institution or entity to deny any payments, reimbursements for services
or any form of aid, assistance, funding, grants or benefits or in any
other manner to coerce, disqualify or discriminate against a person,association, corporation or other
entity attempting to establish a new health care institution or operating
an existing health care institution because the existing or proposed
health care institution declines to participate in a health care service
contrary to the health care institution's conscience.
Section 6. Effect
on informed consent requirements.
Nothing in this act shall be construed
to exempt a health care provider or health care institution from
complying with informed consent requirements mandated by statute
regarding the provision of a health care service.
The provisions of this act are declared to be severable,
and if any provision, word, phrase or clause of this act or the
application thereof to any person shall be held invalid, such invalidity
shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this act.
Section 8. Effective date.
This act shall take effect in 60 days.