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Bill allowing S.C. healthcare providers to deny services based on beliefs becomes law

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster greets lawmakers ahead of his State of the State address on...
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster greets lawmakers ahead of his State of the State address on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)(Meg Kinnard | AP)
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 11:46 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - Gov. Henry McMaster has officially signed a bill into law that would allow healthcare professionals to deny service on the basis of their beliefs.

McMaster signed the Medical Ethics and Diversity Act on Friday.

It authorizes what’s known as “medical rights of conscience” in South Carolina. It protects doctors, nurses and medical students from being fired or punished for opting out of services based on their “religious, moral, or ethical beliefs or principles.”

State law already protects doctors, nurses and technicians from refusing to perform abortions - but the Medical Ethics and Diversity Act adds medical students to that list.

The new law does not, however, apply to emergency medical treatment that is required by federal law. The law also states that practitioners are not allowed to refuse services on the basis of race.

A group of healthcare professionals and students previously asked McMaster to veto the bill, saying it could lead to a denial of care for services like gender-affirming care as well as life-saving medications to prevent and treat HIV.

The bill passed both the South Carolina House and Senate for the final time on Wednesday, according to public records.

Click here to read the law in its entirety.

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