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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.

Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults

A vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

Austria's lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favor of making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for most adults from next month.

Why it matters: The bill is expected to soon pass the upper house and be signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen in order for the law to take effect Feb. 1, per Reuters. It'd make Austria the first EU nation to impose such a sweeping mandate.

Hope King, author of Closer
Updated 4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.