WI: Governor Vetoes ‘Conscience Clause’ Legislation

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle (D) stood up for patients’ rights by vetoing a bill last week that aimed to expand so-called ‘conscience clause’ protections for health care workers. Medical students and pharmacists who refused to participate in medical procedures or fulfill prescriptions they found objectionable would have been covered under the so-called Ôconscience clauses,’ and the bill would have protected workers from punishment even if they refused to refer a patient to another professional for the treatment, reports the Kaiser Daily Women’s Health Policy Report. The bill would also have lengthened the list of protected procedures to include the destruction of embryos, and the use of embryonic cells or fetal tissue not obtained from a miscarriage or stillbirth, in addition to already-protected abortion, euthanasia and sterilization procedures. The veto will stand, as there are not the necessary votes for an override, according to the Madison Capital Times.

In his veto message, Governor Doyle described this bill as “identical” to one that he vetoed in 2004, and strongly objected to the lack of referral requirements. “This bill doesn’t even require health care providers to give you a referral to someone else if they object to a particular treatment,” Gov. Doyle said. “In fact, the doctor wouldn’t even have to tell you about a treatment option that might exist. Even if your life was threatened, this bill would allow a doctor to withhold lifesaving medical care.” In a public statement announcing his veto, Doyle said, “Because it puts a doctor’s political views ahead of the best interests of patients, this legislation ought to be called the ‘unconscionable clause.'”


Kaiser Network 10/19/05; Press Release from the Office of Jim Doyle, 10/14/05; Governor DoyleÕs Veto Message 10/14/05; Madison Capital Times 10/15/05

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