California bans state-funded travel to Ohio over religion law

California is banning state-funded travel to Ohio over the state’s new law allowing doctors to decline medical services to people on moral or religious grounds.

The Ohio measure triggered a 2016 California law that requires the attorney general to prohibit state-funded travel to states that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, according to a Friday press release from California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

The ban takes effect Sept. 30, according to the release. Ohio will become the 18th state to which California won’t pay for travel, according to the release.

Ohio legislators tucked the provision into a massive budget bill, House Bill 110, that was recently passed.

The provision’s language is broad, allowing not just doctors but nurses, counselors, social workers, researchers, pharmacists and others to deny services if they have a “conscience-based objection” to the specific service requested.

The law allows health insurers to deny payment for services on the same grounds.

“Whether it’s denying a prescription for medication that prevents the spread of HIV, refusing to provide gender-affirming care, or undermining a woman’s right to choose, HB 110 unnecessarily puts the health of Americans at risk,” Bonta, a Democrat, said in the news release.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s office didn’t immediately respond to an email Friday.

Ohio’s law provides that, “when possible and when the medical practitioner is willing, the medical practitioner shall seek to transfer the patient to a colleague who will provide the requested health care service.”

It also designates that emergency treatment doesn’t qualify for the objections.

In addition to Ohio, California has banned travel to Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia, Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

This story was originally published September 24, 2021 2:46 PM.

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Wes Venteicher anchors The Bee’s popular State Worker coverage in the newspaper’s Capitol Bureau. He covers taxes, pensions, unions, state spending and California government. A Montana native, he reported on health care and politics in Chicago and Pittsburgh before joining The Bee in 2018.

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