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New York

Refusal to Provide Medical Services

ABORTION REFUSAL CLAUSE

New York allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide abortion services.

To whom does the refusal clause apply? Individuals and hospitals.

What does the refusal clause allow? No person who refuses in writing on the basis of conscience or religious beliefs may be required to provide abortion services. The refusal may not be a basis for civil liability or for discrimination by a hospital, person, firm, corporation, or association. No hospital may be required to admit any patient for the purpose of providing abortion care. The refusal to participate may not be the basis for liability if the hospital informs the patient of its decision not to participate in abortion care.

Must the refusal be in writing? Yes, for individuals. The writing must set forth in advance the reasons for the refusal.

Does the law require the refusing entity to notify the persons affected? Yes, for hospitals. Upon refusal, the hospital must inform the patent of appropriate resources for services or information.

Are there circumstances under which a refusal clause may not be exercised? No.

Does the law require the refusing individual or entity to provide medically and factually accurate information or provide a referral for abortion services? No, however, a hospital must inform the patient of appropriate resources for services or information.

Does the law provide a mechanism for women to otherwise obtain specific reproductive-health services, information, or referrals if an individual and/or entity exercises a refusal clause? No.

N.Y. Civ. Rights Law § 79-i (Enacted 1971); N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 10, § 405.9.

FAMILY-PLANNING REFUSAL CLAUSE

New York allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide family-planning services.

To whom does the refusal clause apply? Staff members of the Department of Social Services.

What does the refusal clause allow? Staff members of local social services departments may refuse to provide family-planning services if it conflicts with their cultural values, conscience, or religious convictions. Social services officials must assign another appropriate staff member to act in the refusing employee's place.

Does the law require the refusing entity to notify the persons affected? No.

Are there circumstances under which a refusal clause may not be exercised? No.

Does the law require the refusing individual or entity to provide medically and factually accurate information or provide a referral for abortion services? No.

Does the law provide a mechanism for women to otherwise obtain specific reproductive-health services, information, or referrals if an individual and/or entity exercises a refusal clause? No.  However, the social services official or his designee is to reassign the duties of the employee in order to provide family-planning services effectively.

N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 18, § 463.6 (Enacted 1978).

INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR CONTRACEPTION REFUSAL CLAUSE

Although New York law requires health-insurance plans that cover prescription medication to provide equitable coverage for contraception, certain employers and/or insurers may require that their plans exclude coverage for contraception.

To whom does the refusal clause apply? Religious employers for whom contraceptive methods are contrary to their religious tenets.

What does the refusal clause allow? A religious employer may require issuers of its health-insurance plans to exclude coverage for contraception.

Is this refusal clause overbroad, jeopardizing insurance coverage for contraception for women? No. The law narrowly defines the term "religious employer" as a nonprofit organization that has the purpose of inculcation of religious values and primarily employs and serves persons who share the religious tenets of the entity. This narrow definition is appropriately limited in scope, applying to religious entities but not broad-based entities that operate in the public sphere.

Does the law require the refusing entity to notify the persons affected? Yes. An employer exercising a refusal clause must provide written notice to prospective enrollees, listing the contraceptive health-care services the employer refuses to cover for religious reasons.

Are there circumstances under which a refusal clause may not be exercised? Yes. A refusal clause may not be used to exclude overage for prescription medication prescribed for reasons other than contraceptive purposes.

Does the law provide a mechanism for women to obtain contraceptive coverage if their employer exercises a refusal clause? Yes. When an employer exercises a refusal clause, the insurer must provide enrollees with written notice of their right to directly purchase a rider for contraceptive coverage from the insurer. The notice must also advise enrollees of the additional premium for such coverage.

Has a court considered the constitutionality of this law? Yes. The New York Supreme Court held that this law is constitutional under both federal and state constitutions. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany v. Serio, RJI No. 01-03-072905 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Nov. 25, 2003), aff'd, 28 A,D,3d 115 (N.Y. App. Div. 2006), aff'd, 7 N.Y.3d 510 (N.Y. 2006), cert. denied sub nomCatholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany v. Dinallo, No. 06-1550 (U.S.Oct. 1, 2007).  

N.Y. Ins. Law § 3221, 4303 (Enacted 2002; Last Amended 2012), 4322 (Enacted 2002; Last Amended 2005).

 


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