Florida governor Ron DeSantis has signed a terrifying new law allowing medical professionals to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.
Since stepping into office, the Republican official and his political allies have targeted the LGBTQ+ community with harmful legislation.
From the disturbing ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law to the various bills attacking the rights of trans youth, the state’s conservative lawmakers are showing no signs of slowing down their hateful rhetoric.
Now it looks like the DeSantis Administration is welcoming another law into the state of Florida that threatens the livelihood of LGBTQ+ residents.
On 11 May, the conservative official signed the harmful SB 1580 into law – which is also known as the “Protections of Medical Conscience” bill.
Under the archaic legislation, which goes into effect on 1 July, doctors and healthcare payors are allowed to “opt out of participation in or payment for certain health care services on the basis of conscience-based objections” – which was defined as “religious, moral, or ethical beliefs.”
The law also grants medical professionals – including doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, pharmacists and lab technicians – and insurance companies “immunity from civil liability” if they decline to pay for or participate in a health care service “on the basis of a conscience-based objection.”
While SB 1580 prevents the discrimination of patients based on race, colour, religion or national origin – it leaves out protections regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.
During a press conference, DeSantis claimed that his new restrictive and anti-LGBTQ+ law would prevent “medical authoritarianism” from taking place in Florida.
Shortly after signing the dangerous bill, LGBTQ+ activists and organizations slammed DeSantis and his allies across various statements.
Florida’s most anti-LGBTQ legislative session in history is over. @equalityFL reports the following disastrous bills passed:
— GLAAD (@glaad) May 6, 2023
Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow condemned the bill for “distorting” the “foundational freedoms” of the US.
“Religious beliefs are fundamental rights in our country. These core values have shaped our nation and strengthened our union. Unfortunately, bills like SB 1580 distort our foundational freedoms into tools to limit the rights of others, including the LGBTQ+ community and other vulnerable people,” Warbelow wrote.
“Personal beliefs should not be wielded as a sword to deny critical medical care. The Human Rights Campaign strongly condemns Gov. DeSantis for signing this dangerous bill.”
Kara Gross, Legislative Director and Senior Policy Counsel of the ACLU of Florida, echoed similar sentiments and described the bill as “shocking in its breadth, vagueness, and government overreach.”
“It goes far beyond any alleged claims of religious freedom, as it applies not just to religious objections but also to ‘moral’ and ‘ethical’ beliefs,” she said.
“What does this even mean? There is no definition of ‘moral’ or ‘ethical’ in the bill. Who determines what constitutes a sincerely held moral or ethical belief, and more importantly, why should access to health care be denied based on such vague, imprecise, and subjective terms?
“We have grave concerns that this bill will lead to discriminatory healthcare practices and that LGBTQ+ individuals, people of color, and those most marginalized in our communities will be disproportionately harmed.”
DeSantis’ latest legislative attack on the LGBTQ+ community comes a few weeks after he expanded his ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill – which now bans discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity across all grade levels.