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Rauner sued over new “Right of Conscience” law

Friday, Aug 5, 2016

* Press release

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing an Illinois doctor and two pregnancy care centers filed suit Friday in state court against Gov. Bruce Rauner after he recently signed a bill into law that forces doctors and medical facilities to promote abortion regardless of their ethical or moral views on the practice.

ADF sent a letter to Rauner in May on behalf of numerous pro-life physicians, pregnancy care centers, and pregnancy care center network organizations advising him that the bill, SB 1564, would violate federal law and therefore place federal funding, including Medicaid reimbursements, in jeopardy. ADF also warned legislators about the problems with the bill last year. The lawsuit claims the new law, which is actually an amendment to the existing Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act, violates state law and the state constitution.

“No state should attempt to rob women of the right to choose a pro-life doctor by forcing pro-life physicians and entities to make or arrange abortion referrals. What’s even worse is that Illinois did this by amending a law designed specifically to protect freedom of conscience,” said ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman. “The governor should have vetoed this bill for many reasons, including its incompatibility with Illinois law and the state constitution, which specifically protects freedom of conscience and free speech.”

The new law forces medical facilities 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” them. Illinois law prohibits government from placing burdens on religious conscience without a compelling interest for doing so. Additionally, the Illinois Constitution protects “liberty of conscience,” saying that “no person shall be denied any civil or political right, privilege or capacity, on account of his religious opinions.” It also protects free speech, which includes the right not to be compelled by government to speak a message contrary to one’s own conscience.

“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. This is the kind of government coercion that the state constitution, the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the very law that was amended were all designed to prevent.”

Mauck & Baker LLC attorney Noel Sterett, one of more than 3,000 private attorneys allied with ADF, is co-counsel in the case, The Pregnancy Care Center of Rockford v. Rauner, filed in the Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit in Winnebago County.

The main targets of this new law are those crisis pregnancy centers. Click here to read the lawsuit. And click here to read the letter the group sent the governor in May.

* Meanwhile, the AP has finally gotten around to covering this story. Click here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

13 Comments
  1. - Demoralized - Friday, Aug 5, 16 @ 1:23 pm:

    This is more of turning “religious freedom” into a right to not do whatever things you don’t happen to agree with. It seems that these people believe that in their case their rights trump everyone else’s rights. They aren’t being asked to perform the service, they are being asked to tell someone where they can get a LEGAL service that they may need or want.


  2. - Anon - Friday, Aug 5, 16 @ 1:30 pm:

    Haha! Even though I think he did the right thing I’m still happy he’s getting sued again. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy!


  3. - MSIX - Friday, Aug 5, 16 @ 1:31 pm:

    =…that forces doctors and medical facilities to promote abortion …=

    Can anyone in this state ever write something truthful? Listing options is hardly forcing someone to promote something.


  4. - MSIX - Friday, Aug 5, 16 @ 1:34 pm:

    So the governor would be defended, I assume, by the AG, right? Just as Duckworth was? Will these people complain that their tax dollars are being spent to defend someone who “promotes” abortion?


  5. - walker - Friday, Aug 5, 16 @ 1:37 pm:

    Pretty tortured logic to get to the claim that this law aims to force “pro-life” doctors to leave Illinois.


  6. - Politically Incorrect - Friday, Aug 5, 16 @ 1:44 pm:

    I may face a lot of legal criticism, but this indeed is a difficult balance between free speech and freedom of religion. Not a slam dunk for either side.
    Interesting to note the choice of county for filing and the obvious lack of any federal law so that the issue remains solely in the hands of the Illinois judiciary. I find it hard to predict how the Illinois Supreme Court may rule on this.


  7. - Crispy Critter - Friday, Aug 5, 16 @ 2:21 pm:

    What if a doctor were to promote having the baby adopted instead and not even mention abortion. Adoption is saving a baby whereas abortion is killing a baby. Doctors study medicine to promote health for people; abortion is hardly promoting a healthy baby. +++ And “Demoralized” stated: This is more of turning “religious freedom” into a right to not do whatever things you don’t happen to agree with.+++ What if the government decided that everyone should go to church on Sunday and worship GOD? Would you just go even though you don’t agree with that? I bet you would complain then. Maybe instead of “Black Lives Matter”, maybe we need a “Baby Lives Matter” slogan instead, and that might save black, white, and all other races as well.


  8. - Past the Rule of 85 - Friday, Aug 5, 16 @ 2:38 pm:

    I think the medical professionals should be more concerned about “First, do no harm” to their patients than trying to impose their religion on women who are facing extraordinarily difficult situations. This,the hatred towards gays and other religious intolerance make me believe Sharia law is not necessarily limited to Islam.


  9. - Demoralized - Friday, Aug 5, 16 @ 2:58 pm:

    ==What if a doctor were to promote having the baby adopted==

    I don’t think they are prohibited from mentioning that.

    ==What if the government decided that everyone should go to church on Sunday and worship GOD? Would you just go even though you don’t agree with that? ==

    Yeah, that’s certainly a rational point. Not. That’s a ridiculous rabbit hole to go down.

    Abortion, like it or not, is a legal medical procedure. I see no reason why someone should not be required to provide information on where they can get that legal medical services if that person has chosen not to provide that service. I’m for providing information on all options - abortion, adoption, having the baby. Nobody should be attempting to hinder any decision that might be made. It’s a difficult enough decision as it is.


  10. - Jay Dee - Friday, Aug 5, 16 @ 3:16 pm:

    “I see no reason why someone should not be required to provide information”

    I think your approach to the issue is incorrect. It is not on the individual to prove why they should not be forced to do something, but rather the burden is why that individual must do something.

    In the age of the internet, information is widely easy to access for various options regarding abortion, adoption, etc. In the pre-internet days, I would be more likely to agree with you. But today, there are other ways the same information can be obtained without laws and regulations.


  11. - SKI - Friday, Aug 5, 16 @ 3:19 pm:

    As I understand it, all they would need to do is provide a list of hospitals or clinics that may perform the procedures that patient is requesting information on. Nothing more. Again, I could be wrong, but that does not seem so bad.

    If they really have an issue with providing a list of places the patient can contact and think that by doing this they are promoting abortion, then hand out information about adoption or non-profits that help mother’s in need too.


  12. - Liandro - Friday, Aug 5, 16 @ 4:22 pm:

    And another of my comments doesn’t exist, heh. Ok then.


  13. - Liandro - Friday, Aug 5, 16 @ 4:24 pm:

    “First, do no harm”

    That’s EXACTLY what they are doing. There are two human lives involved, and one of them may get ended (does that meet the moderation test?).


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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