Invoking “the right of conscience” and “the Hippocratic Oath” this new law permits doctors, pharmacists, hospitals and health insurance companies to refuse to provide or pay for non-emergency care if they feel their “religious, moral, or ethical principles” would be violated.
However, no definition is provided in the law as to what these “principles” can or cannot be.
Since throughout US history some Americans have asserted that their “religious, moral, or ethical principles” justify slavery, subjugation of women, white supremacy, or lynching, the lack of any definitions in the law make it absurdly vague.
Henceforth, in Arkansas, refusing to care for a patient because of one’s “principles” will not be punishable, by loss of hospital “staff privileges,” “refusal of board certification,” “refusal to award any grant,” or “refusal to provide residency training.”
I am a physician who has practiced cancer medicine for over 40 years and a medical school professor who teaches medical ethics and medical history. This law is a rare combination of ignorance of medical history, flagrant disregard of medical ethics, bigotry, and buffoonery.