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Bill Shields Kentucky Physicians With Moral, Ethical Objections To Procedures

AP Photo/David Goldman

A bill protecting medical providers who decline to perform procedures that violate their conscience made its way through a Senate committee Thursday, despite opposition from groups who foresee the measure enabling open discrimination.

Under Senate Bill 83, healthcare providers would have the right not to participate in or pay for servicesthat run counter to their "religious, moral, ethical, or philosophical beliefs or principles." The sponsor, Republican Sen. Stephen Meredith, a former hospital CEO, says the bill anticipates a world where increasingly difficult ethical dilemmas in healthcare are decided by factors outside of a patient's best interests.

"I'm trying to set the standard for the future," Meredith said. "Who's going to make the decisions about healthcare for us — insurance companies, government, or people who are trained to do it?"

But opponents worry about opening up a different avenue for medical workers to bring in considerations outside their official duties as healthcare professionals, namely the workers' own faith or moral judgments.

"What I believe to be right for me... I do not have the right to put that responsibility on my patient," said Sen. Karen Berg, a physician. "My job is to take care of that patient."

Groups like the Fairness Campaign also warn the bill could disproportionately affect LGBTQ and other marginalized communities.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.