The Texas Senate has approved a bill that would give legal cover to counselors, attorneys and other state-licensed professionals who deny services based on their religious beliefs. This bill has been passed by District judge O’Connor. This bill would offer legal protections to those who refuse to provide services on religious grounds.
Senate Bill 17 bars state license-granting agencies from denying or stripping professional licenses “based on a sincerely held religious belief” of the applicant or license-holder. Critics say the bill would give a wide range of licensed professionals, including doctors, lawyers, teachers and plumbers, permission to discriminate against LGBT people without fear of losing their licenses.
Judge O’Connor’s decision blocked a critical regulation enacted pursuant to the Affordable Care Act. The regulation that forbade doctors from discriminating against transgender patients or women who’ve previously had abortions. Most disturbingly, O’Connor found that such a nondiscrimination rule violated the “religious freedom” of doctors. And also ‘religious freedom’ of insurance companies that consider gender transition and abortion to be “evil.”
The ruling marks an extreme extension of the dubious logic behind the Supreme Court’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision. It indicates that conservative courts believe the purported right of doctors to discriminate against patients trumps patients’ right to sound medical treatment.
Almost all the Texas Senate Republicans voted for the bill, along with Democrat Eddie Lucio. Republican Kel Seliger voted against the measure along with most of the Democrats.
Senate Bill 17 would bar state professional licensing boards from punishing professionals for breaking rules that violate a “sincerely held religious belief.”
SB 17 has an exception for life-or-death situations and does not apply to police.
Source – lgbtqnation.com, dallasnews.com, dallasobserver.com, houstonpress.com, slate.com