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Rhode Island

Refusal to Provide Medical Services

ABORTION REFUSAL CLAUSE

Rhode Island allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide abortion services.

To whom does the refusal clause apply? Physicians or other persons associated with, employed by, or on the staff of a health-care facility.

What does the refusal clause allow? No physician or other person associated with, employed by, or on the staff of a health-care facility, who objects in writing on moral or religious grounds to a scheduled abortion, may be required to participate in medical procedures that result in an abortion. The refusal to participate may not be a basis for civil liability, disciplinary action, or recriminatory action.

No physician or other licensed health-care practitioner acting within the scope of his or her practice may be compelled to provide, and no person shall be compelled to assist in, abortion services.

Must the refusal be in writing? Yes.

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.

R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-17-11 (Enacted 1978; Last Amended 1979); R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 31-1-2:1.0-2.0 (Enacted 1973; Last Amended 2002).

INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR CONTRACEPTION REFUSAL CLAUSE

Although Rhode Island 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 prescription contraceptive methods are contrary to their bona fide religious tenets.

What does the refusal clause allow? An insurer may issue a religious employer a health-insurance contract, plan, or policy that excludes coverage for contraception.

Is this refusal clause overbroad, jeopardizing insurance coverage for contraception for women? Yes. The law defines the term "religious employer" as a "church or a qualified church-controlled organization" as defined by federal law. This exemption allows a broad range of organizations engaged in secular activities, some of which may receive government funding, to deny women necessary services based on religious doctrine.

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.

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

Does the law provide a mechanism for women to obtain contraceptive coverage if their employer exercises a refusal clause? No.

R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 27-18-57, -19-48, -20-43, -41-59 (Enacted 2000; Last Amended 2002).

STERILIZATION REFUSAL CLAUSE

Rhode Island allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide or participate in sterilization services.

To whom does the refusal clause apply? Physicians or other persons associated with, employed by, or on the staff of a health-care facility.

What does the refusal clause allow? No physician or other person associated with, employed by, or on the staff of a health-care facility, who objects in writing on moral or religious grounds to a scheduled sterilization, may be required to participate in medical procedures that result in a sterilization. The refusal to participate may not be a basis for civil liability, disciplinary action, or recriminatory action.

Must the refusal be in writing? Yes.

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.

R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 23-17-11 (Enacted 1978; Last Amended 1979).


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