JEFFERSON CITY–The rights of parents and health care workers are being addressed in bills recently filed with the Missouri General Assembly.
Speaker of the House Timothy Jones, R-Eureka, is sponsoring House Bill 457 (HB 457), which seeks to protect the conscience rights of health care workers who decline to participate in medical procedures or research that violates their consciences. Jones is joined by 57 other representatives in sponsorship of the bill.
“The bill protects employees in the health care or medical fields from being held civilly or criminally liable for refusing to participate in any sort of practice or procedure that flies in the face of their religious beliefs or their conscience rights,” Jones said.
“This is a civil liberties issue and an important protection we must extend to the many doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who may have an objection to providing services that violate their moral or religious beliefs.”
Sen. Scott T. Rupp, R-Wentzville, has introduced a companion bill, SB 84.
If either law passes, it will be illegal to discriminate through termination, suspension, demotion, loss of wages or benefits, refusal of grants, or any other retaliatory action.
Kerry Messer, lobbyist for the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission, noted that these issues arise in the context of abortion and all other ethical standards in health care.
In the area of parental rights, Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-O’Fallon, has introduced HB 513, which briefly states that the liberty of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, and care of his or her child is a fundamental right.
“HB 513 would put into statute that the state, or state agencies, cannot violate those parental rights without due process,” Messer said.
“We must make sure children are protected in emergency situations but balance that with serious action of the state.
“To formally terminate parental rights of a child is only eclipsed as the most extreme measure civil government can wield, with the imposition of the death penalty being the only other more extreme measure.”
Rep. Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, has gone one step further in the effort to protect parental rights. He has proposed House Joint Resolution 26 (HJR 26), which calls for offering voters the opportunity to amend the state constitution to assure the rights of parents.
All four bills have been introduced. Three are in the committee study stage of the legislative process. Rep. Jones’ bill has completed committee review and been recommended for passage by the House.