CommunityPam's House Blend

The prospect of more 'refusal clauses' coming down the pike

The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy blog has just posted an article by Carrie Evans of HRC on “refusal” bills that have been materializing in state legislatures that could profoundly affect LGBT citizens if any of them pass.

These bills would allow some health care providers to refuse services (this is already true of abortion services in 46 states), because the proposed measures would allow refusal based on broad, undefined criteria such as “moral, ethical or conscientious grounds.” Most have failed to pass, but it’s clear that right-wing legislators are not meek about repeated attempts to control wombs and punish gays.

A dramatic example of this can be found in Virginia’s 2006 House Bill 187 that would have prohibited all health care providers from assisting any unmarried woman with any form of assisted reproduction. While this bill did not pass, the fact that something this expansive was introduced and received public attention indicates the direction we can expect these bills to continue in.

In opposing these bills the solidarity between choice and LGBT organizations at the state-level has been rekindled. Moreover, by highlighting the potentially severe negative consequences of these bills many legislators have agreed, that as written, these measures are mean-spirited and potentially devastating and, to date, have not passed one.

I would imagine that Virginia’s wingnut-filled legislature, if the marriage amendment passes, will feel empowered to move forward on measures like HB187 and even more expansive bills, once LGBT citizens are made even more legally vulnerable than they presently are.


On a brighter Virginia note, the coffers of the organization battling the amendment, The Commonwealth Coalition, has raised more than $315,000 during the months of July and August. In contrast, the bible beaters at Virginia4Marriage, only racked in about $155,000.

As far as the numbers go, 54% favor the amendment while 40% said they would vote against it, according to a recent Mason-Dixon poll. There’s a lot of work to do.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding