Maryland’s Conscience Clause: Leaving a Woman’s Right to a Health Care Provider’s Choice
Maria Cirincione, 13 J. Health Care L. & Pol’y 171 (2010)
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Part I of this Comment begins with a brief history of federal and state conscience legislation in the United States and continues with a discussion of patient and provider rights in the context of relevant constitutional interpretations and physician responsibilities grounded in principles of medical ethics and Maryland case law. Part II provides a summary of general scholarly discourse on the conflict between patient and provider rights. Part III argues that Maryland’s conscience legislation must be amended in three fundamental ways in order to prevent health care providers from being able to deny care to women in need of emergency contraception. Specifically, the Maryland legislature should (1) replace the phrase termination of pregnancy with abortion, (2) include a requirement that providers inform patients about emergency contraception as a treatment option if it is medically indicated, and (3) require a treating provider to either administer emergency contraception or to refer the patient to another provider who is willing to provide emergency contraception within the medically indicated time limit.