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Washington

Senate Bill 5878 (2003)

Check on the status of this bill in theWashington State Legislature.

58th Legislature
2003 Regular Session

By Senators Prentice, Deccio, Mulliken, Parlette, Rasmussen and Stevens

Read first time 02/18/2003. Referred to Committee on Health & Long-Term Care.

AN ACT Relating to conscience clauses; adding a new section to chapter 48.43 RCW; adding a new section to chapter 70.47 RCW; and creating a new section.


BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
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Sec. 1. The legislature finds that the first amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, section 11 of the Washington state Constitution guarantee and protect freedom of religion. In the twenty-first century, biomedical technology has made many research, pharmaceutical, and treatment options available or technologically possible. However, not all of the options created by medical science are morally acceptable, according to the doctrinal beliefs of some religions. Human cloning, euthanasia, contraception, and abortion may be profoundly morally unacceptable to some individuals, health care providers, religious organizations, and employers. Biotechnology may create new objectionable medical options in the future.

The legislature finds that state law has long recognized the right of health care providers and religious organizations to conscientious objection to certain biomedical treatment, procedures, or provision of pharmaceuticals, regardless of their secular legality or availability. Such "conscience clauses" serve to guarantee to individuals and religious organizations the fundamental constitutional right to the exercise of religious belief.

The legislature intends to strengthen and enhance the reliability of conscience clauses for the protection of the constitutional first amendment rights of persons and religious organizations.

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Sec. 2. A new section is added to chapter 48.43 RCW to read as follows:

(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person may be required to pay for or otherwise provide, directly or indirectly, any biomedical treatment, service, procedure, pharmaceutical, or technology to which that person has a bona fide doctrinal religious objection.

(2) This section shall be broadly construed to provide enhanced reliance upon conscience clauses in the protection of the constitutional right of free exercise of religion.

(3) The definitions in this subsection apply throughout this section.

(a) "Person" includes natural persons, licensed health care providers, pharmacists, religious organizations, and religious employers.

(b) "Religious employer" means an employer that is a church or other entity exempt from taxation under internal revenue code section 501(c)(3).

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Sec. 3. A new section is added to chapter 70.47 RCW to read as follows:

(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person may be required to pay for or otherwise provide, directly or indirectly, any biomedical treatment, service, procedure, pharmaceutical, or technology to which that person has a bona fide doctrinal religious objection.

(2) This section shall be broadly construed to provide enhanced reliance upon conscience clauses in the protection of the constitutional right of free exercise of religion.

(3) The definitions in this subsection apply throughout this section.

(a) "Person" includes natural persons, licensed health care providers, pharmacists, religious organizations, and religious employers.

(b) "Religious employer" means an employer that is a church or qualified church-controlled organization as defined in 26 U.S.C. Sec. 3121.

 

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