Concord, NH—On behalf its members, supporters, and constituents in New Hampshire, American Atheists has submitted testimony in opposition to HB 1787, a bill in the New Hampshire legislature that would endanger the lives of New Hampshire citizens and allow health care providers and institutions to place their own religious beliefs above the health and safety of patients by allowing the providers to refuse to provide necessary medical care.
From the letter:
HB 1787 is unnecessary. There is simply no evidence that health care workers are regularly forced to provide contraception or reproduce health services such as abortion or sterilization against their religious beliefs in New Hampshire. In fact, the opposite is true. Hospitals and other health care institutions regularly accommodate the desire of workers to avoid certain procedures relating to reproductive services. The number of instances where a worker has been purportedly forced to engage in such activities unwillingly is shockingly low. At the federal level, the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights reports that between 2008 and 2016, only 10 complaints were filed by health care workers related to religious belief.
Moreover, HB 1787 lacks even basic measures to ensure the safety of the patients affected by a provider’s religious refusal. There is no obligation to inform the patient that their health is being subject to religious ideology rather than medical best practices or that certain services will not be provided even if medically necessary. There is no obligation to refer patients to other providers for relevant services – indeed, providers are specifically exempt from referral. The bill makes no exceptions for emergencies – In fact, it does the opposite by expressly clarifying that there is no defense even if the violation was necessary to protect a patient.