.- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed a law expanding conscience protections for health care workers beyond abortion.
House Bill 517, sponsored by Democratic State Rep. Bernard LeBas, allows any person to refuse to provide abortions, distribute “abortifacient drugs,” work on human embryonic stem cell research or cloning, or participate in euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.
The drug provision is intended to include the “morning-after pill” but would not extend to regular birth control, the Times-Picayune reports.
The Jindal administration said the measure is necessary to uphold the individual rights of health care workers whose personal beliefs might conflict with their profession.
Social conservatives and religious activists supported the bill, while opponents such as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union said the law would restrict patient access to accurate information and timely services.
Benjamin Clapper, executive director of the Louisiana Right to Life Federation, told CNA previously that the passage of the bill is a victory for health care workers across the state that would help them “excel” in their profession without concerns about being coerced into providing services against their conscience.
“Even though this legislation was under sustained attack from Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, Louisiana understood that conscience rights should be protected,” he said.