Since it’s inception, SWLC has worked to protect women and LGBT individuals’ access to healthcare services. SWLC continues to lead efforts in New Mexico to ensure that patients have the right to make their own healthcare decisions without having their providers withhold or deny access to services based on the providers’ own personal beliefs.
Recent Legislative Work
In 2013, SWLC worked in coalition with New Mexico-based organizations to help defeat a bill that would have created a religious conscience exemption from New Mexico’s Human Rights Act. This bill would have given carte-blanche to individuals, including medical professionals, to refuse provide services to women and LGBT individuals. SWLC provided testimony addressing the legal authority of the New Mexico Human Rights Act, current religious exemptions within the Act, and repercussions of exempting doctors from providing care to patients based on religious belief, especially in rural areas. During the committee hearing, the bill’s sponsors sought to amend the bill’s proposed language to allow only for creation of a religious conscience exemption for providing services, including medical services, to LGBT individuals. This amendment was rejected, and the bill was defeated in committee with bi-partisan support.
In 2012, SWLC worked with the ACLU of New Mexico to challenge a pharmacist refusal in Albuquerque. The Southwest Women’s Law Center received a complaint that a pharmacist at an Albuquerque Walgreens had refused to refill a woman’s birth control prescription. SWLC worked with the ACLU of New Mexico to negotiate with Walgreens corporate office on a nationwide policy change to require pharmacies to provide seamless service to customers seeking to fill contraceptive prescriptions. Walgreens agreed to place pharmacists with religious objections only at store locations with double staffing of pharmacists and agreed to ensure that no pharmacists’ religious objections would impede a woman’s access to health care.
Transgender Healthcare Refusals
In 2013-2014, Tom Steel Law Fellow Kate Walsham joined SWLC in partnership with the Transgender Law Center and ACLU of New Mexico to educate trans* New Mexicans on their healthcare rights. She will be working to address the knowledge gap about what is and isn’t legal for medical providers to do and refuse in treating LGBT patients. Kate Walsham is also monitoring healthcare refusals within the trans* communities for potential legal action or advocacy.
Legal Analysis and Training for Partners in the Community
The Southwest Women’s Law Center continues to provide community leaders and coalition partners with updated legal analysis and training on state and federal law surrounding religious refusals.
Past Work on Denial of Healthcare Services
For more information on SWLC’s past work on denial of healthcare services, click here.
Need Help with a Denial of Healthcare Services?
Have you encountered a medical provider who has refused to provide you healthcare services because of his or her religious beliefs? Please contact the Southwest Women’s Law Center at 505-244-0502, or fill out this confidential form below.