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Arkansas will now allow medical workers to legally refuse treating LGBTQ people


Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) announced on March 25 that he signed into law Senate Bill 289, which is entitled the “Medical Ethics and Diversity Act.”

This means that the state that goes by the nickname “The Land of Opportunity” will grant medical workers the “right” to refuse providing healthcare or assist someone because of the worker’s “religious, moral or ethical” beliefs. That could open the door for LGBTQ people to face denial from life-saving services from doctors, nurses, or EMTs.

Related: Doctors told not to test for STI that affects many gay men so it doesn’t become a super “bug”

In his statement announcing his decision, Hutchinson dismissed concerns that the bill could make it legally permissible to discriminate against LGBTQ people in healthcare. “I weighed this bill very carefully, and it should be noted that I opposed the bill in the 2017 legislative session. The bill was changed to ensure that the exercise of the right of conscience is limited to ‘conscience-based objections to a particular health care service’,” he stated.

He further claimed, “I support this right of conscience so long as emergency care is exempted and conscience objection cannot be used to deny general health service […]

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