October 17, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Tunisia: Politics: State Government: Ethics: Medicine: Medical Ethics: UW Badger Herald: Doyle vetoes ‘Conscience Protection Act’

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tunisia: Special Report: RPCV Jim Doyle, Governor of Wisconsin: Special Report: Governor and Tunisa RPCV Jim Doyle: October 17, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Tunisia: Politics: State Government: Ethics: Medicine: Medical Ethics: UW Badger Herald: Doyle vetoes ‘Conscience Protection Act’

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Doyle vetoes ‘Conscience Protection Act’

Doyle vetoes ‘Conscience Protection Act’

In a controversial move Friday, Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill known as the “Conscience Protection Act,” squelching Republican efforts allowing health care workers to deny patients medical procedures due to moral or ethical views. Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and his wife served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Tunisia in the 1960's.

Doyle vetoes ‘Conscience Protection Act’

Doyle vetoes ‘Conscience Protection Act’

by Carolyn Smith
Monday, October 17, 2005

In a controversial move Friday, Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill known as the “Conscience Protection Act,” squelching Republican efforts allowing health care workers to deny patients medical procedures due to moral or ethical views.

“One of the most sacred principles of our medical care system is that a doctor should always do what is in the best interests of a patient’s health,” Doyle said in a release. “But this bill would allow a doctor to put his or her political beliefs ahead of the patient’s best interests.”

Supporters of the bill are decrying Doyle’s veto, saying doctors and health care providers should be protected if they choose not to participate in a medical procedure based on social or political grounds.

“The bill really has nothing to do with patients’ health; it has everything to do with destroying life,” state Rep. Jean Hundertmark, R-Clintonville, a co-author of the bill, said. “We’re protecting health care professionals from discrimination when they are required to take part in these activities.”

The legislation would allow doctors and health care workers to refuse to partake in abortion, sterilization, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, procedures resulting in the death of a non-terminal patient by withholding nutrition or hydration, and experiments or procedures involving in vitro embryos, stillborn, miscarried or aborted fetuses.

“We basically are not prohibiting any procedure,” Hundertmark said “We’re simply allowing health care professionals to decide whether or not they want to participate in those very specific activities.”

Though euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are illegal in Wisconsin, Hundertmark said the bill was a preemptive attempt at banning the practices so legislators could not pass such procedures into law in the future. Doctors overseeing patients with legal, written directives concerning their health care would be exempt from the provisions of the bill.

“We are honoring advanced directives, which are living wills and power of attorney for health care,” Hundertmark said. “So doctors would have to follow any legal instruments patients have on file.”

After its passage in the Assembly in mid-June, the bill was approved by the Senate in September by a partisan vote.

Democrats are applauding Doyle’s veto. State Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, said the Legislature was “irrational” in its passage of the bill.

“Supporting that kind of legislation is unconscionable,” Risser said. “Because it’s telling the health care people they don’t have to produce health care.”

Risser also said the bill would have jeopardized patients’ rights and the quality of health care state residents receive. Risser added Doyle will likely veto the bill if it is reintroduced and passed by the Legislature again in future sessions.

“If a health care worker does not want to support health care, then he or she belongs in a different line of work,” Risser said.

A similar but separate bill, known as the “Pharmacists’ Conscience Clause,” would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions such as birth control due to conflicting moral or ethical beliefs. The bill was approved by a Senate committee in May and will be up for a Senate vote in the current legislative session.

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Story Source: UW Badger Herald

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