Two weeks ago the governor signed a disastrous bill—SB 1564—that specifically targets the conscience rights of medical professionals and medical facilities in the state. The new law amends the existing Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act and forces medical facilities, such as pro-life pregnancy centers and physicians who conscientiously object to involvement in abortions, to adopt policies that provide women who ask for abortions with a list of providers “they reasonably believe may offer” abortions.
Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of an Illinois doctor and two pregnancy care centers against Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner over this unlawful bill.
“Pro-life health care professionals shouldn’t be forced to hand out lists describing how to contact abortionists, yet that’s what this law mandates that they do,” explained ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “If this profane amendment to Illinois’ conscience protection law remains on the books, doctors and medical staff committed to saving all lives will be forced to promote the killing of some children, women will lose access to doctors who unconditionally value human life, and pregnancy resource centers that offer free help and hope to pregnant women will be forced to refer to abortionists.”
There is no question that pro-life doctors and nurses approach their jobs with the utmost respect for human life, especially the lives of the patients in their care. When they see a pregnant woman—they see two human lives—the mother and the living baby in her womb. To force these professionals to provide abortion referrals, as a course of “treatment” that they know would end one of those lives, is unconscionable.
It begs the question: Why would a doctor or nurse who spends years of their life training to provide life-saving care want to work in a state that not only rejects their pro-life beliefs that life is sacred, but also forces them to act contrarily to that belief if they want to keep their job?
It’s a question that’s concerning the people of Illinois who are already likely facing a future shortage of medical professionals in the state.
In an op-ed for the Chicago Sun-Times, Dr. Colleen Malloy, an associate professor of Neonatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Emily Zender, executive director of Illinois Right to Life, discuss the impact the bill could have in alienating medical professionals from the state.
“When 2,865 faith-based health care professionals were surveyed [in a 2010 study conducted by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine], 91 percent of them stated they agreed with the following statement: ‘I would rather stop practicing medicine altogether than to be forced to violate my conscience,’” Malloy and Zender wrote. “We can’t afford to drive good medical professionals out of Illinois simply because they decline to participate in abortion.”
It’s truly baffling to think that the state of Illinois is willing to lose valuable medical professionals because the government’s state-sponsored priority is to promote abortion. But pro-life doctors and pregnancy care centers didn't sign up to be spokespeople for government ideologies. They have a right to their beliefs and to operate their businesses accordingly.
If we eliminate the freedom for people to live and work according to their conscience, then we might as well rip up the U.S. Constitution. How can we profess to be the freest country in the world if we are unwilling to protect the most basic liberty of not being forced by the government to betray your own conscience?
There is no place for such coercion in our society.
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