Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a controversial bill, the “conscience clause,” Wednesday that would have provided increased legal protection to doctors and other healthcare professionals who chose not to partake in procedures due to their own ideological beliefs.
The bill would provide legal immunity not only for procedures like abortion but also for euthanasia, research involving human embryos and fetal tissue.
“One of the most sacred principles of our medical-care system is that a doctor should always do what’s in the best interests of a patient’s health,” Gov. Doyle said in his veto message.
Opponents to the bill say the legislation is redundant and useless, because procedures like euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal.
But Susan Armacost, Legislative Director for Wisconsin Right to Life, said the bill helps physicians by providing them with legal protection if they believe a treatment is unethical, but the bill in no way prohibits people from getting information about procedures.
“[The bill] increases the options available for healthcare professionals. It adds a number of activities that weren’t there before like euthanasia or experimentation on aborted embryos,” she said. “This bill would mean that healthcare professionals could not be slapped with a lawsuit or lose their job. It does not cover contraceptives; it does not cover information.”
Vice President of Planed Parenthood, Lisa Boyce, disagreed saying the bill will allow doctors to withhold potentially life-saving information and the law was not popular among healthcare providers.
“[This bill] puts a woman’s health and life at risk. It lawfully allows health providers to withhold information from a woman because it could lead her to get an abortion,” she said. “From our perspective and the perspective of the entire medical community this bill undermines the principles of medical ethics and patient safety.”
Planed Parenthood has been working on a public campaign to inform voters of the bill in the Milwaukee area where many of the representatives supported the legislation.