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Right of doctors to refuse abortion, contraception?

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This March the New Hampshire House will vote on a bill that would protect doctors who to refuse to provide an abortion, contraception, or sterilization.

A doctor would have the right to sue an employer, licensing board, or any other person or institution that discriminates against him or her for refusing to provide those reproductive health services.

The bill, HB 1787, would also cover other health care employees, such as nurses and pharmacists.

Visit our family planning page to learn more about related issues.

Arguments for a "right of conscience"

Bill supporters argue that HB 1787 is necessary to protect the religious freedom of health care providers. They argue that with a shortage of primary care physicians in the state, it is especially important to protect doctors and nurses from discrimination that might drive them out-of-state.

Supporters note that several other states, including Maine and Massachusetts, have similar laws.

Arguments HB 1787 is unjust

Bill opponents argue HB 1787 will invite too many lawsuits. For example, if an OB/GYN office refuses to hire a doctor that will not prescribe hormonal birth control, HB 1787 might give that doctor an opportunity to sue.

Other opponents argue that HB 1787 gives health care providers a route to unjustly discriminate against patients they do not want to treat.

Do you have an opinion on HB 1787? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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Is this law necessary? I don't believe that any doctor is currently required to conduct an abortion or sterilization procedure against his or her will. Patients wanting such procedures find a willing doctor. I think the only time liability could come into play is when a patient's life is on the line, if an abortion or sterilization isn't performed, and a doctor refuses... but in that case, I think I'd side with the patient.


Pharmaceutical distribution and medical procedures should not be forbidden due to a doctor's religion. A doctor shouldn't be compelled to go against their conscience, but the burden of finding a service provider that is satisfactory to the patient (equivalent cost, commute, convenience, etc.) should fall on the doctor, not the patient.

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