State’s abortion law discriminates against employers with religious objections, complaint claims
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ new reproductive health care law is a “blatant violation” of residents’ religious and conscience rights, pro-life law firm official Peter Breen said.
The Thomas More Society, based in Chicago, filed a complaint Oct. 21 with the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights alleging an element of the Reproductive Health Act breaches federal law.
Breen, the organization’s vice president and senior counsel, said on June 12, when Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker signed the statute, that his firm would mount a legal challenge. It is now asking the federal government to “prevent or halt” that law from being enforced. . . [Full text]
Indiana Senate Bill 201, proposed by Senator Liz Brown, passed the Indian Senate by a vote of 38-8 and will be sent to Goveror Eric Holcomb for signature. Existing Indiana law protects freedom of conscience for physicians, nurses and institutional employees in relation to surgical abortion. Bill 201 amends the statute to include medical abortion and extends protection to physician assistants and pharmacists.
Catholic News Service
The bishops from Illinois’ six dioceses March 28 made a decisive
stand against state legislators’ efforts to remove all abortion
restrictions in the state, as well as the right of physicians to object
to the practice.
At a news conference livestreamed from the Illinois Capitol in Springfield, Catholic Conference of Illinois Director Bob Gilligan told reporters on no uncertain terms that “we are here today to oppose these bills.”
. . . The Senate and House bills Gilligan is referring to are S.B. 1942 and H.B. 2495. Either, if passed, would greatly alter current Illinois law. . . . [Full text]
New York Law Journal
A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed rule that would more vigorously protect health care providers’ ability to deny coverage in certain circumstances because of moral or religious beliefs should be withdrawn, according to a coalition of state attorneys general.
The proposed rule would strengthen the enforcement of existing regulations that allow providers to invoke conscientious objections as a basis for refusing to provide care that involves certain medical issues, including abortion, sterilization, assisted suicide and others. It also would allow individual providers to object to informing patients about their medical options or referring them to providers of those options. . . [Full Text]
For immediate release
Mauck & Baker LLC
ROCKFORD, Ill.—On Monday, Chief Judge Eugene Doherty rejected Winnebago County’s primary defense that the Tort Immunity Act shielded it from liability for claims that Rockford nurse Sandra (Mendoza) Rojas brought against it after she was forced out of her job for refusing to participate in abortion-related services. Rojas’ right to refuse to participate in such services is protected under the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act and Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act. A devout Catholic, Rojas worked for the Health Department for 18 years providing pediatric care, immunizations, and screenings.
In 2015, the county’s new Public Health Administrator, Dr. Sandra Martell, merged the pediatric clinic with women’s health services and mandated that all nurses be trained to provide abortion referrals and participate in the provision of abortifacients like Plan B. When Rojas, who Dr. Martell considered to be a “good nurse,” informed the administration of her conscientious objections to participating in any way in the provision of abortions, Dr. Martell gave Rojas two weeks to either quit or accept a demotion to a temporary job as a food inspector. Rojas refused the demotion and lost her job at the clinic.
The suit seeks damages under the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act which prohibits public officials from discriminating against a person in any manner because of their conscientious refusal to participate in any way in the provision of abortions. The Act provides for treble damages and the recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs. “Nursing is more than just a job, it is a noble calling to protect life and do no harm. There is something terribly wrong when you are forced out of your job on account of your commitment to protect life,” said nurse Rojas.
Rojas’ attorney, Noel Sterett, from the law firm Mauck & Baker in Chicago, said, “The Conscience Act was written to ensure that both public and private health care professionals would be protected from government efforts to force them out on account of their conscientious objections.” Denise Harle, Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel said, “Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to perform or assist in abortion procedures. An individual’s conscience and commitment to the Hippocratic Oath to ‘do no harm’ is often what draws health care workers into the medical field.”
Mauck & Baker Attorney
Noel W. Sterett, Esq.
ROCKFORD. A local woman has filed a complaint with a federal agency alleging that she was forced from her job in 2015 at the Winnebago County Health Department because of abortion mandates.
The complaint was filed Tuesday with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by attorneys representing Sandra Rojas.
The complaint alleges that Rojas, a pediatric nurse who worked 18 years at the Health Department, objected to a requirement that nurses be trained to make referrals to abortion providers and to help women obtain abortion drugs. . . . [Full Text]
The Thomas More Society filed a complaint Thursday with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR) against the state of Illinois over a new law that requires pro-life pregnancy centers to discuss the benefits of abortion and sterilization procedures. The law also requires the centers, if asked, to refer patients to abortion providers despite the centers’ opposition to these procedures.
The Thomas More Society is representing Dr. Jim Gallant and Hope Life Center, a pro-life pregnancy center in Sterling, Illinois. . . [Full Text]
Measure forces pregnancy centers to promote abortion
ROCKFORD, Ill. (ChurchMilitant.com) – In a setback for mandatory abortion referral laws, a federal judge is halting implementation of an Illinois notification measure.
U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Kapala has temporarily suspended enforcement of SB1564, a measure that compels pro-life pregnancy care centers and doctors to publicize abortion to their clients. In his ruling, Kapala warned that SB1564, an amendment to the Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act, may threaten religious liberty and free speech rights.
SB1564 went into effect January 1. In response, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates joined with 18 Illinois pregnancy care centers to challenge it in court. . . [Full text]
Chicago on the Radar
After the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973, federal legislation was passed to represent the interests of doctors and other healthcare workers who have religious or moral objections to the controversial procedure. These “right-of-conscience” laws provide a measure of protection for medical personnel who do not want to perform abortions or offer abortion referrals.
In Illinois, all that changed on January 1 of this year, when Governor Bruce Rauner’s amendment to the legislation officially took effect, requiring clinicians, regardless of their moral convictions, to inform pregnant women about “all their options,” including abortion.
Healthcare entities must at least provide women with abortion referrals. There seems to be some concern that patients are not being apprised of all the courses of action they can pursue when they find themselves in a crisis pregnancy.
Two Christian pregnancy centers– 1st Way Pregnancy Support Services (McHenry County) and Pregnancy Aid South Suburbs (Lansing)– and a physician who serves patients at various clinics, have since filed suit in opposition to the enactment. Plaintiffs point out that the Illinois legislation is a clear violation of federal law. Furthermore, it tramples on clinicians’ First Amendment Rights, requiring providers to inform patients about a procedure that they believe is morally wrong. . . [Full Text]
A pro-life doctor in Illinois is embroiled in a legal battle to challenge a 2016 law that requires all doctors, pharmacists, and pregnancy centers to assist women in obtaining abortions, regardless of whether the medical professionals are opposed to the procedure.
SB 1564 narrowly passed the Illinois House on party lines before being signed into law by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. Under the law, which amends the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act, doctors are required to provide information to patients about the “benefits” of abortion. It indicates that medical personnel must “inform a patient of the patient’s condition, prognosis, legal treatment options, and risks and benefits of the treatment options in a timely manner consistent with current standards of medical practice.”
The law mandates that physicians who are unwilling to provide the requested service “because the healthcare service is contrary to the conscience of the healthcare facility, physician, or healthcare personnel” must refer the patient to someone who will.
But those opposed to abortion contend that asking them to refer patients to someone who will provide them abortion services continues to violate their consciences. . . [Full text]