LITTLE ROCK – The ACLU of Arkansas issued the following statement regarding passage of Senate Bill 289, which would allow health care providers to deny health care services to people for almost any reason. 

While the majority of states, including Arkansas, have rules allowing providers to decline to provide abortion care, no state has enacted a law that would allow healthcare providers and institutions to refuse to provide a whole host of healthcare services to any patient, subject only to limited federal rules regarding emergency stabilization and transfer.

“Making it easier to deny people health care isn’t just wrong, it’s dangerous,” said Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director. “This bill is dangerously broad, encompassing any kind of care that someone might object to on moral or religious grounds. That’s why medical organizations all oppose such sweeping exemptions that allow providers to refuse care without regard to the needs of patients.” 

SB 289 would allow any medical provider – defined so broadly to reach all health care entities as well as individual staff at a hospital, nursing home, clinic or pharmacy to refuse to do anything they object to on the basis of conscience, including referrals or even providing information.