Society

Bill Passed In Michigan House Could Exempt Medical Personnel From Treating Gay People

| by Dominic Kelly

Lawmakers in the Michigan House of Representatives have passed a controversial bill that would allow medical professionals to deny treatment for members of the LGBT community.

Reports first started to surface this weekend after the House of Representatives in Michigan passed HB 5958, also known as the “Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.” Part of the language of this bill could actually exempt emergency medical personnel from treating gay people based on their personal religious beliefs.

There has been some misinformation about this bill’s passing, however. Once word broke that the bill had passed, a now viral graphic started being spread all over the Internet. The graphic reads, “Michigan has passed a bill that exempts emergency medical personnel from treating gay people in a crisis.” As Snopes points out, that statement isn’t entirely accurate.

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“According to the text of that bill, a person who acted contrary to Michigan law because doing otherwise would burden that person's exercise of religion could use the provisions of the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act as a defense in a criminal or civil case resulting from his actions (or inaction),” reports Snopes. “... Nothing in the RFRA specifically exempts all medical personnel from providing emergency treatment to gay patients; the claim that medical personnel could opt out of providing emergency treatment to gay patients on the grounds of religious objection is one of the hypothetical scenarios opponents have posed as what might come to pass if the RFRA were enacted.”

The report from Snopes goes on to say that the RFRA would not allow a medical practitioner exclusive rights to deny gay people care. They point out, however, that it would be a possibility if the circumstances of the case were in line with the potential law’s outlines.

“The individual must show they have a sincerely held religious belief that has been substantially burdened,” House Speaker Jase Bolger, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement. “This bill is not a license to discriminate; the courts have already demonstrated for decades that wild claims will not be supported.”

Still, despite the fact that the bill wouldn’t inherently leave gay people without medical coverage if the practitioner objected on religious grounds, many still worry about the possibility of such a scenario happening if the bill does in fact become a law.

Sources: NewNowNext, CBS Detroit, Snopes / Photo Source: CBS Detroit, Wikimedia Commons