In 2021 the Legislature passed the Death with Dignity act. The law allows terminally ill persons to kill themselves. Dr. Greg Schmedes, then a freshman Senator, warned the legislature that not including an opt-out clause would result in lawsuits. A local Christian physician and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, a Tennessee-based nonprofit group, filed suit in Federal Court, stating without the right to refuse to participate and the right to not refer, First Amendment rights were violated. In the wake of that lawsuit, the Governor has proposed SB 471 Refusal of End-of-Life Options Act which passed the Senate on a 38-0 vote.
The same issue is embedded in HB 7. All abortion and gender-altering interventions must be “affirmed” without exception according to the law. When the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Linda Serrato, was urged to include an opt-out clause, she responded that the concept was included in “best practices” in other documents. The Senate sponsor, Sen. Katy Duhigg, argued that including the language was unnecessary and that its inclusion would minimize the inclusion in other laws.
Governor Lujan Grisham is expected to sign HB 7 Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care on Sunday.