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Conscience rights under attack

Copy of Bible-StethoscopeThe Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act allows medical personnel and health care facilites to avoid participating in medical procedures — such as abortion, sterilization, and certain end-of-life care — that violate their beliefs and values.

Senate Bill 1564 essentially obliterates this important conscience protection. The complex legislation states that when conscience rights are invoked, patients must receive written information that includes a referral to "health care facilities, physicians, or health care personnel that can provide the patient the particular form of health care service."

This referral could constitute a direct cooperation with the morally objectionable services, resulting in a violation of conscience.

Catholic hospitals and health care clinics already have in place protocols for dealing with conscience objections that also ensure the health and care of patients.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois and the Illinois Catholic Health Association are working to defeat this bill. We have distributed a fact sheet on SB 1564 to all state senators, as well as a letter from the presidents of all Catholic health systems in the state.

Senate Bill 1564 is sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 7-3 vote on March 17. It now moves to the Senate floor for debate. We will keep you posted.