Press Release • April 27, 2023

North Carolina House Health Committee Advances Bill That Would Grant an Anti-LGBTQ "License to Discriminate" to Healthcare Workers

For Immediate Release

Adam Polaski | Campaign for Southern Equality | | 610-306-7956

Alainna Liloia | Equality NC |

RALEIGH – Today the North Carolina House Health Committee voted to advance HB819, a bill that would grant a broad "license to discriminate" for a wide range of healthcare workers.

The bill would grant medical providers a broad "license to discriminate" – that is, deny care and services – based on their personal or religious beliefs, which could negatively impact LGBTQ people, women, people of color, and people of diverse faith backgrounds. The bill is so broadly defined so as to allow doctors, nurses, receptionists, and other employees to refuse to admit or offer services to patients in need of care in any non-emergency situation. Additionally, this bill would also allow a "medical practitioner, health care institution, or health care payer" to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community in their employment practices, as well as allowing insurance companies the ability to refuse to pay for care.

Many North Carolinians testified against the bill today, including parents, medical providers, and transgender young people. They criticize the bill's problematic vagueness, overbroad nature, and the myriad ways it would impact marginalized people, especially those who live in rural communities.

ENC Executive Director Kendra R. Johnson (she/her) said:

"We are horrified to see HB 819 move forward, as it is a discriminatory violation of a basic human right. Everyone deserves access to the healthcare they need, regardless of who they are or who they love. We will not reach lived equality if politicians continue introducing policies allowing doctors to discriminate or deny healthcare to anyone."

Adam Polaski (he/him), Communications Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, added:

"No one should face discrimination because of who they are or who they love – and everyone should be able to access quality, affirming healthcare in their hometown. HB819 would allow virtually anyone who works in the healthcare field to claim a so-called 'conscience' objection to equally and fairly serving people in North Carolina. A receptionist could refuse to check in a patient receiving gender-affirming care. A pharmacist could refuse to fill a prescription for birth control, fertility treatment, or HIV medications like PrEP. A nursing home staffer could refuse to offer trans patients hormone therapy. This is so broad and so dangerous – and lawmakers must reject it."

HB819 now heads to the House Judiciary 1 committee.

Learn more about anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being considered in North Carolina by visiting the website for NC is Ready.

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Equality North Carolina builds LGBTQ+ power through advocacy, education, and uplifting the stories of queer and trans North Carolinians in pursuit of racial and social justice.

Based in Asheville, NC, the Campaign for Southern Equality promotes full LGBTQ equality across the South. Our work is rooted in commitments to equity in race, gender and class.

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