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West Virginia

Refusal to Provide Medical Services

FAMILY-PLANNING REFUSAL CLAUSE

West Virginia allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide family-planning services.

To whom does the refusal clause apply? State employees.

What does the refusal clause allow? No state employee, who objects on religious grounds, may be required to offer family-planning services. The refusal shall not be the basis for any discipline, discrimination, or loss in pay or benefits.

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 family planning and birth control 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.

W. Va. Code § 16-2B-4 (Enacted 1966).

HEALTH-CARE PROVIDER AND HEALTH-CARE INSTITUTION REFUSAL CLAUSES

West Virginia allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to comply with individual health-care instructions or decisions based on conscience.

To whom does the refusal clause apply? Health-care providers and health-care facilities.

What does the refusal clause allow? No health-care facility is required to change published policy that is expressly based on sincerely held religious beliefs or sincerely held moral convictions central to the facility's operating principles. A health-care provider may refuse to act contrary to the provider's sincerely held religious beliefs or sincerely held moral convictions so long as the provider promptly informs the patient and the health-care facility of the decision. The medical power of attorney representative or surrogate decision maker must have responsibility for arranging the transfer of the person to another provider. The provider must cooperate in facilitating the transfer.

Does the law require the refusing entity to notify the persons affected? Yes. A provider that refuses to comply with an individual health-care instruction or decision must promptly inform the patient.

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 the requested health 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? Yes. A provider must assist in the transfer of the patient.

W. Va. Code § 16-30-12 (Enacted 2000).

INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR CONTRACEPTION REFUSAL CLAUSE

Although West Virginia 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 contraception is contrary to their religious tenets. 

What does the refusal clause allow? A religious employer may exclude coverage for prescription contraception from the health coverage purchased.

Is this refusal clause overbroad, jeopardizing insurance coverage for contraception for women?  Yes.  The law broadly defines the term "religious employer" as a non-profit organization or an organization listed in the Official Catholic Directory that holds sincere religious or moral convictions that are central to the employer's operating principles.  This exemption allows a broad range of organizations engaged in secular activities to deny women insurance coverage for contraception.  

Does the law require the refusing entity to notify the persons affected? No.  However, the health insurer must provide written notice to prospective enrollees, listing the contraceptive health-care services that the employer refuses to cover for religious reasons. 

Are there circumstances under which a refusal clause may not be exercised? Yes.  The refusal clause may not be exercised to exclude coverage for prescription contraception ordered by a health-care provider for reasons other than contraceptive purposes, such as decreasing the risk of ovarian cancer or eliminating symptoms of menopause, or to preserve the life or health of an enrollee.

Does the law provide a mechanism for women to obtain contraceptive coverage if their employer exercises a refusal clause?  Yes.  A health insurer must make available for purchase at the prevailing group rate a rider that provides prescription contraception.  

W. Va. Code Ann. §§ 33-16E-1 to -7 (Enacted 2005). 

STERILIZATION REFUSAL CLAUSE

West Virginia allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide or participate in sterilization services.

To whom does the refusal clause apply? Individuals, hospitals, or medical facilities.

What does the refusal clause allow? No hospital, medical facility, or person shall be required to participate in or admit for the purpose of providing sterilization services. The refusal shall not be the basis for any legal sanctions, restrictions, or civil liability. The employment of a person who refuses to participate shall not be adversely affected.

Does the law require the refusing individual or 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 sterilizing procedures? 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.

W. Va. Code § 16-11-1 (Enacted 1974).


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