UPDATE: House Bill 1247 fails to pass out of the House.
House Bill 1247 is an Act to provide for the protection of the consciences of medical professionals.
House Bill 1247 would result in refusals of healthcare, staffing challenges for hospitals and nursing homes in the middle of a global pandemic, and harm to patients throughout South Dakota.
We oppose House Bill 1247 because it would allow any medical provider – defined so broadly to reach all staff at a hospital, nursing home or clinic– to refuse to do anything they object to on the basis of conscience, including referrals or even providing information. The employer could do nothing in response. And any patient harmed by this refusal would have no recourse, even a malpractice claim.
This also would create extraordinary staffing challenges during a global pandemic because employers would have to accommodate any refusals of care and could not take any steps to adjust work obligations or assignments in response to a refusal to do the basic duties of an employee’s job.
The bill would also allow religious medical institutions a blanket right to refuse any care.
South Dakota already has a law that allows medical providers to decline to provide abortion care. This bill would go so much farther and allow anyone to refuse to provide any care (even things such as record keeping) in any context.