California bans state-funded travel to Ohio due to religion law

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

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

The ban takes effect on September 30, according to the statement. Ohio will become the 18th state in which California will not pay for travel, according to the release.

Ohio lawmakers included the provision in a massive budget bill, House Bill 110, which was recently passed.

The language of the provision is broad, allowing not only physicians but also nurses, counselors, social workers, researchers, pharmacists and others to refuse services if they have a “conscientious objection” to the specific service requested.

The law authorizes health insurers to refuse payment for services on the same grounds.

“Whether it’s denying a prescription for a drug 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 endangered,” Bonta, a Democrat, said in the press release.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s office did not immediately respond to an email Friday.

Ohio law provides that, “when possible and when desired by the physician, the physician should seek to transfer the patient to a colleague who will provide the requested health care service.”

It also means that emergency processing does not qualify for 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 p.m.

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

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