LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas House panel has rejected a measure that would have allowed hospitals and health care workers to refuse to treat patients based on religious or moral objections after it faced criticism that the move was unnecessary and discriminatory.
The measure, House Bill 1628, failed before the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on an 11-8 vote, and Representative Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro), the lawmaker behind the measure said he hadn't ruled out trying again before the panel later.
The bill would have protected health care professionals, facilities and insurers if they declined to provide non-emergency treatment that would violate their conscience. Supporters said the measure was needed to protect the religious freedom of people working in health care.
We spoke we Lorraine Stigar, a member of the LGBT community in Arkansas, on Tuesday who said the recent influx of bills designed to attack the community doesn't make the state feel inclusive. Stigar was worried mostly about HB1628 and said the mere fact the bill was proposed hurt her.
"It hurts that I'm paying tax dollars and helping out and people are trying to make it more difficult for me to get care," she said.
The proposal was defeated two years after the Arkansas Legislature revised a religious objections law criticized as anti-gay.