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“Conscience” clauses allow US corporate providers to refuse care

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 26 August 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:476
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. New York

    “Refusal clauses” and “conscience exceptions,” which allow US doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers to refuse to provide certain types of health care to patients, are being extended to hospitals, insurance companies, pharmacies, and managed care companies.

    New legislation may upset the balance between providers who refuse to provide care to which they have ethical objections and patients' ability to get the care they want and need.

    Most of the new laws are at the state level, but federal legislation may be reintroduced before Congress adjourns for the November elections. The laws allow hospitals, insurance and managed care companies, and pharmacies to deny care for services to which they object, such as abortion, contraception, sterilisation, in vitro fertilisation, and medical research involving embryonic stem cells.

    The laws protect them …

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