PHOENIX — Health care providers and institutions opposed to assisted suicide gained more legal protections under a new Arizona law that aims to help ensure doctors and nurses aren’t fired for their beliefs if the practice is ever legalized.
Senate Bill 1439 was “an important rights-of-conscience bill,” according to the bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference.
“S.B. 1439 will help protect health care providers not wanting to participate in services causing the death of their patients,” the state’s four bishops said March 24, adding they were grateful that it has become law.
The legislation lists assisted suicide, euthanasia or “mercy killing” as some activities that a doctor, nurse or health care entity may decline to participate in.
Sponsor Sen. Nancy Barto said it would help ensure that individuals would not lose their jobs if they have objections to these practices.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed the legislation on Friday.
The Arizona bishops’ conference said federal law already protects health care providers who decline to participate in assisted suicide or similar actions, but the bill adds state-level protections and clarifies that providers cannot face discrimination in employment.
The bill bars discrimination against state health care providers and facilities if they refuse to assist in services that result in a person’s death or if they refuse to provide items that result in a person’s death.
Assisted suicide is illegal in Arizona, though the conscience-protection bill comes at a time when several other states have legalized the practice.