Ron DeSantis signs law giving doctors ‘right to discriminate’ against LGBTQ+ patients

Ron DeSantis

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has signed a new vile law which would put LGBTQ+ patients at risk, as doctors could choose not to treat them by citing religious or moral objections. 

The Republican governor, who seems to have made it his personal mission to wage war on the LGBTQ+ community, signed a ‘Protections of Medical Conscience’ bill on Thursday (11 May). 

The legislation enables medical professionals and for-profit insurers to deny patients care based on religious, moral or ethical reasons or beliefs. 

Beliefs, under the act, are defined as “a sincerely held religious, moral, or ethical belief”. 

Concerns have been raised by LGBTQ+ Floridians and activists across the US that the bill could be used to deny care to queer people, if a healthcare provider holds bigoted views about the community. 

At a press conference, DeSantis claimed the bill ensures “freedom of speech for physicians” and said “these expanded protections will help ensure that medical authoritarianism does not take root in Florida”.  

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“It ensures that physicians can follow the data, not dictates and we want our physicians practising evidence based medicine. 

“We don’t want it to just defer to authority or to just follow the herd,” the GOP governor said. 

Equality Florida, the state’s LGBTQ+ equality organisation, slammed the bill, saying it creates a “license to discriminate”

Brandon Wolf, Equality Florida’s press secretary said: “This bill is a broad license for health care providers and insurance companies to refuse services to people.

“No one should be denied access to medical care. It gives health care providers and insurance companies an unprecedented ‘religious’ or ‘moral’ right to refuse to provide services.”

Wolf continued: “This puts patients in harm’s way, is antithetical to the job of health care providers, and puts the most vulnerable Floridians in danger. 

“Our state should be in the business of increasing access to medical care, not giving providers and companies a sweeping carve out of nondiscrimination laws. 

“Shame on the governor for putting Floridians’ health at risk to score cheap, political points.”

In a statement shared with The Advocate, the Human Rights Campaign’s legal director Sarah Warbelow condemned the legislation as using religious beliefs as tools to “limit the rights of others”. 

“Personal beliefs should not be wielded as a sword to deny critical medical care. The Human Rights Campaign strongly condemns Governor DeSantis for signing this dangerous bill,” Warbelow said. 

Ron DeSantis has made a name for himself in the Republican Party as a politician rallying against anything ‘woke’, potentially as a platform to launch a 2024 presidential campaign. 

In 2022, the governor signed into law the controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which has been expanded multiple times since and bans classroom discussions of gender and sexuality in all Florida schools – essentially silencing LGBTQ+ teachers and pupils.

Don’t Say Gay has led to an ongoing, escalating war with Disney, one of the state’s largest employers.

Under DeSantis, Equality Florida has also released an “unprecedented” warning against LGBTQ+ visitors travelling to the state, because of the safety, freedom and health risks posed to queer people under current legislation.

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