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Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed legislation on Friday that will allow doctors to turn away some patients due to religious or moral objections.

Why it matters: It's a move opponents say will enable service providers to discriminate against patients, including LGBTQ people and others, AP writes.

Details: The provision, which won't take effect until this summer, gives providers "the right to not participate in non-emergency treatments that violate their conscience." It also claims to prohibit discrimination, per AP.

  • Refusal laws, often called “conscience” laws, are also deemed "dangerous" for women, per NARAL. Such measures "permit a broad range of individuals and institutions—including hospitals, health-care providers, pharmacists, employers, and insurers— to refuse to provide, pay, counsel, or even refer for medical treatment."
  • The new law is likely to face a challenge in court.

Worth noting: The Trump administration issued a similar rule in May 2019, allowing health care workers to refuse to provide operations like abortion, sterilization or assisted suicide, according to NPR.

  • A federal judge struck the rule down before it took effect, per CNBC.

What they're saying: "I support this right of conscience so long as emergency care is exempted and conscience objection cannot be used to deny general health service to any class of people," Hutchinson said in a statement.

  • Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David said: “Governor Hutchinson is proving himself to be a cruel opponent of equality by signing this draconian medical refusal bill,” per a Friday afternoon statement.
  • HRC cited a number of scenarios in which a medical worker's refusal to provide non-emergency treatment could cause serious harm, such as:
    • Pharmacies refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and antiretrovirals to treat HIV infection.
    • A doctor refusing to maintain hormone treatments for a trans patient who needed inpatient care for an infection.

The big picture: LGBTQ people already face discrimination in health care and are often likely to skip routine care, per the Center for American Progress.

  • It comes as part of a series of measures aimed at transgender people, many of which flew through the state's Republican-led legislature this year.
  • Hutchinson on Thursday signed into law a measure to bar trans women and girls from playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity.

Go deeper

Arkansas bans trans women, girls from school sports that align with their gender identity

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Photo: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed a law Thursday barring transgender women and girls from participating in school sports that align with their gender identity.

Why it matters: Republicans in at least 25 states have introduced more than 60 bills targeting trans youth since January. Arkansas is the latest state to pursue school sports as a vehicle for anti-trans legislation.

1 hour ago - World

Biden backs Gaza ceasefire for first time in call with Netanyahu

Biden with Netanyahu in 2010. Photo: Debbi Hill/Pool/ Getty Images

President Biden expressed support for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in a call on Thursday evening with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said in a statement.

Why it matters: This is the first time since the beginning of the crisis last Monday that Biden or anyone in his administration has publicly backed a ceasefire. It will increase pressure on Israel to seek an end to the conflict, which Netanyahu has insisted will continue until Hamas' ability to attack Israel is further degraded.

3 hours ago - World

Schumer: "I want to see a ceasefire"

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters Monday he wants to "see a ceasefire reach quickly and mourn the loss of life."

Why it matters: Schumer is a staunch defender of Israel and has maintained that Israel should be able to defend itself.