The ACLU of Florida has described the measure as "shocking in its breadth, vagueness, and government overreach into the private sector and regulated businesses."
The group's senior policy counsel, Kara Gross, tells New Times it is "a brazen attempt to make it easier to discriminate against people" over the treatment they need. She warns that the bill would entitle employees across the healthcare spectrum to refuse to provide everything from medical billing to therapy to record-keeping.
"Who is to determine whether something is a sincere ethical belief?" Gross asks. "This opens up the door to tremendous discretionary refusals of healthcare and to discrimination in healthcare... and would be a public health disaster."
Gross envisions a cascading set of scenarios in which the bill's language could be used to deny essential medical services. She warns that it will disproportionately affect LGBTQ people, minorities, and other marginalized communities who could be denied service on a whim.
"So what if there's a healthcare provider that thinks that it's unethical to bring a child into the world given overpopulation and climate change? Can that healthcare provider refuse to provide prenatal care to the pregnant person? Under this bill, yes, they can. Can they refuse to assist in labor and delivery? Apparently, under this bill, they can if they have a moral or ethical opposition to it," Gross says.
Gross says the bill has gone largely unnoticed by Florida residents owing to the deluge of sweeping legislation pushed through the statehouse by Republican legislators supporting Gov. Ron DeSantis' agenda, such as the six-week abortion ban and expansion of bans on sexual-orientation lessons in school.