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Health, Science & Environment

Columbus files lawsuit challenging Ohio's 'conscience clause'

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein
Nick Evans

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein has filed a lawsuit challenging a recent Ohio state law known as the "Conscience Clause."

The law protects individuals and health care payers who deny care or payment for any service they feel violates their conscience. It allows health care providers, and pharmacists to deny certain vaccines, prescriptions for birth control, blood transfusions or blood products, any treatments or counseling for HIV/Aids or for transgender individuals.

State Attorney General Dave Yost released a statement that said "this lawsuit is meritless, anti-democracy and authoritarian. He added he will defend the law vigorously in court."

The law was slipped into the two-year state budget last summer. Some medical associations came out against it at the time. But Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine insisted it only codified a policy that was already in wide usage that allowed doctors to avoid doing something they philosophically oppose by delegating care to another physician.

California restricted state-funded travel in September 2021 because of the law. At the time, Ohio became the 18th state to which California will no longer allow state-funded travel.