Texas Health Care Right of Conscience Act (HB 2878)
This law was last updated on Oct 25, 2017
HB 2878 would permit a health-care provider or institution to refuse to receive, obtain, perform, assist in performing, give advice regarding, suggest, recommend, refer, or participate in a health-care service that is contrary to a person’s or entity’s conscience.
The bill would prohibit a physician or health-care provider from being held civilly or criminally liable solely because of the physician’s or health-care provider’s conscientious refusal of a health-care service.
The bill defines conscience to mean “a sincerely held set of moral convictions arising from:
- a belief in and relation to God; or
- a place in the life of its possessor parallel to that filled by God among adherents to religious faiths.”
The bill defines health-care service to mean “any phase of medical care or treatment, including:
- testing, diagnosis, prognosis, ancillary research, instruction, medication, and surgery;
- family planning, counseling, and referrals, and any other advice in connection with the use or procurement of contraceptives, sterilization, or abortion; and any other care or treatment rendered by a health-care facility, physician, or health-care provider.”
If passed, the broad language of the bill would potentially allow medical personnel and health-care facilities to refuse to provide reproductive health-care services to women; and health-care services to the LGBTQ community, including transitioning treatment for transgender individuals.
Discrimination Related to Licensing
The bill would prohibit a person from discriminating against another person because of the person’s conscientious refusal of a health-care service, including discrimination with regard to:
- hiring, promoting, or transferring; and
- granting of staff appointments or other privileges.
Discrimination Related to Employment
The bill would prohibit a person, medical institution, or other institution that conducts education or training programs for physicians or health-care providers from discriminating against an applicant because of the applicant’s conscientious refusal of a health-care service, including discrimination by:
- denying employment, admission, or participation in a program for which an applicant is eligible;
- referring to conscientious refusal in an application form;
- questioning an applicant regarding the applicant’s conscientious refusal of a health-care service; and
- imposing a burden in the terms or conditions of employment.
Discrimination Related to Benefits
The bill would prohibit a person, including a public official, from discriminating against a recipient entitled to any type of aid, assistance, or benefits because of the recipient’s conscientious refusal of a health-care service, including discrimination by:
- denying aid, assistance, or benefits;
- conditioning receipt of the aid, assistance, or benefits; or
- coercing or disqualifying the recipient.
Conscientious Refusal Protocol
The bill would require health-care facilities to develop a protocol describing a patient’s access to care and information to ensure that a conscientious refusal of a health-care service does not impair a patient’s health. Such protocol must, at a minimum, require a health-care facility, physician, or provider to:
- timely inform a patient of the patient ’s condition, prognosis, legal treatment options, and risks and benefits of treatment options, consistent with accepted standards of medical care; and
- provide copies of the patient’s medical records to the patient or to another health-care facility, physician, or provider, if requested by the patient or the patient ’s legal representative.
The bill would not require a health-care facility, physician, or provider to counsel a patient regarding a service that is contrary to their conscientious beliefs.
The bill would allow a person to sue another person or a governmental entity for damages.