Washington, D.C.– Today the Secular Coalition for America and American Atheists announced that a New Hampshire bill, HB 1787, has won the title of “Worst State Bill in America.” The legislation would allow health care workers and institutions to refuse to provide necessary medical care to patients if doing so conflicts with the provider’s religious beliefs.
The announcement marks the conclusion of the 2018 Bad Bill Madness campaign, organized by the Secular Coalition for America and American Atheists. The educational campaign pit 16 state bills from across the country into a tournament bracket and invited the public to vote on which bill is the worst. After four rounds and nearly 1,000 votes, New Hampshire’s HB 1787 was named the “winner.”
“No one should have their medical options limited by the religious beliefs of their health care provider,” said Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. “This legislation does not protect conscience but instead weaponizes it, turning religious belief into yet another barrier between patients and the medical care they need. If signed into law, HB 1787 would give religiously affiliated hospitals a broad and unchecked license to impose their beliefs onto unsuspecting patients. Under this bill, hospitals and health care workers could refuse to provide treatments without any regard for the urgency of the medical issue or the express wishes of the patient. While there were many truly terrible bills in the 2018 Bad Bill Madness roster, New Hampshire’s HB 1787 is a particularly illustrative example of the harm that occurs when lawmakers forget that freedom of religion must include the freedom from religion.”
“American Atheists opposes hundreds of bad state bills across the country which would undermine the separation of religion and government or allow for discrimination against atheists and other groups, and due to the opposition of American Atheists and many partner organizations, the vast majority of these bills do not pass,” said Alison Gill, Legal & Policy Director for American Atheists. “We submitted testimony opposing New Hampshire HB 1787 because it would allow health care providers and institutions to place their religious beliefs above the health and safety of patients by allowing them to refuse to provide necessary medical care. We were pleased to see that the majority of the Republican-controlled New Hampshire House of Representatives agreed with us and deemed this bill ‘Inexpedient to Legislate.'”
A HealthDay/Harris poll published in January 2018 found that a clear majority of Americans agree health care providers should not be able to refuse to treat a patient based on religious objections to their sexual orientation (69 percent) or to refuse to perform surgical procedures because they have a religious objection to them (59 percent).
Casey Brescia, Secular Coalition for America
Communications Associate and Spokesman
Nick Fish, American Atheists
National Program Director
(908) 276-7300 x8
The Secular Coalition for America is the nation’s premier advocacy organization representing atheists, humanists, agnostics, and other nontheists. Its mission is to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. The Secular Coalition represents 19 voting member organizations.
American Atheists is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that defends rights of atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers; advocates for the absolute separation of religion and government; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy. American Atheists was founded in 1963 by Madalyn Murray O’Hair.