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Changes urged to HCRCA

Tuesday, Oct 19, 2021

* Tribune

Separately, Pritzker will be pushing for legislation to prevent some public employees, including police officers and teachers, from trying to skirt COVID-19 vaccine mandates by citing a state law that allows people to avoid certain health care services for moral or religious reasons.

The state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act was intended to allow health care workers, especially those at Roman Catholic hospitals, to deny the distribution of emergency contraceptives to patients seeking abortions.

In broad terms, the law applies to “any phase of patient care,” but whether the law indeed applies to vaccine mandates will be taken up at some point during two-week session.

Some courts have ruled in favor of employees who citied the right of conscience exemption. But the Pritzker administration said the law is being interpreted incorrectly by those resisting the vaccine requirements and is seeking to exempt masking and vaccine mandates from the statute.

The administration’s language would also exempt testing….

“Testing” is specifically included in the law’s definition of health care.

That’s the key here that too many in the media don’t appear to quite grasp. The unvaxed are claiming they shouldn’t be required to be regularly tested. It’s a wholly ridiculous argument.

* Capitol News Illinois

The Health Care Right of Conscience Act defines conscience as “a sincerely held set of moral convictions arising from belief in and relation to God, or which, though not so derived, arises from a place in the life of its possessor parallel to that filled by God among adherents to religious faiths.” On those lines, certain care can be refused.

The governor’s office has been promoting legislation that would narrow the allowable exemptions when it comes to COVID-19 requirements, although a spokesperson did not identify the exact language it was pursuing.

“The Health Care Right of Conscience Act was never intended to allow people to avoid public health guidance and jeopardize workplace safety during a global pandemic. The administration supports efforts to clarify the law, so it cannot be misinterpreted by fringe elements,” Pritzker spokesperson Emily Bittner said in a statement Monday.

Subscribers have the proposed language.

* Meanwhile, the SJ-R continues to run big splashy stories about a couple of Springfield teachers who are refusing to be tested regularly based on their “conscience”

The resolutions, “notices to remedy,” were unanimously passed by the school board without discussion. They stated the teachers’ actions could “(warrant) discharge and dismissal.”

The two stood by each other and later embraced as the resolutions were read by assistant superintendent of human resources Gina McLaughlin-Schurman. […]

Koen and Keys have cited “personal liberties” as motives for defying the governor’s mandate. Neither said they were budging from their positions as they and several supporters, including fellow teachers, addressed the board in the public comment section.

“That they’ve taken (our livelihoods) from us over something that is completely illegal and completely irrational is unconscionable,” Keys said of the mandate.

If your conscience tells you not to be tested regularly for a debilitating and potentially fatal disease after refusing to take a safe vaccine, there’s something very, very wrong with your conscience. Making heroes out of these two without making that clear is beyond irresponsible.

* Center Square

Elsewhere throughout the state, local officials seem to be negotiating mandates in good faith with local law enforcement unions, [Illinois Fraternal Order of Police President Chris Southwood] said. If not, he said there’s always the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

“It clearly states that it’s unlawful to discriminate because of a person’s conscientious refusal to receive health care service contrary to his or her conscience,” he said. “We clearly feel we can fall back on that when we need to when it comes to these vaccine mandates and how they are implemented.” […]

The FOP he said will be lobbying against any possible changes to the Health Care Right of Conscience Act, a decades-old law he says gives broad protections to people refusing medical treatments that go against their beliefs.

“We’ll let General Assembly members know right up front that if you vote for changes to this act, we’re going to make sure your constituents are aware that you voted for changes to that act,” he said.

I’m fairly certain that the majority of Illinoisans will find it ridiculous for the unvaxed to use a “conscience” excuse to opt out of regular COVID testing.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

39 Comments
  1. - Suspicious - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 10:09 am:

    Koen and Keys have complied throughout their careers with numerous professional mandates in order to be education professionals.
    Now they have problems?

    They seem a little too rehearsed.

    They sound like the public education version of Mark Janus.


  2. - Interim Retiree - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 10:17 am:

    A Notice to Remedy usually means you will either comply in 90 days w/the district or be fired, I believe. Written up by the district’s attorneys, it’s much different than an evaluation issue of one’s teaching. JS Mill can correct me if I’m wrong.


  3. - TheInvisibleMan - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 10:29 am:

    I’ve noticed a pattern locally. Might be interesting to get a larger sample size though.

    The same people who are opposed to everything health related, also seem to be overrepresented in having DUI and/or domestic violence arrests.

    I would imagine it isn’t going to be too much longer before these objections of conscience to testing start happening during DUI encounters.

    Conscience seems to be a nice general term, but the underlying specific issue of their conscience seems to be a desire to avoid any consequences for their choices.


  4. - Streamwood Retiree - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 10:33 am:

    As a union member (APWU) I can see the union protesting that testing should be on city time and the city’s dime. But I can’t see them protesting the actual test. Last Thursday I have exploratory surgery and Central DuPage hospital tested me. It felt like that swab went halfway into my head. (I AM vaccinated, they test all patients) Much easier to have one or two shots than be tested three times a week. But they do have the choice. They say they want the third choice of nothing. That is unacceptable. But the union has the right to bargain about who pays.


  5. - Leslie K - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 10:41 am:

    “That they’ve taken (their livelihoods) and thrown them in the garbage over something that is completely irrational is unconscionable”

    Fixed it for ya, Keys


  6. - ANNON'IN - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 10:48 am:

    Think of all the big checks left on the table by these mopes. Maybe a tax cut is around the corner


  7. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 10:49 am:

    These two shouldn’t be allowed near children, even if they are vacced or tested.


  8. - Club J - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 10:54 am:

    Keys and Koen have stated that being vaccinated and tested are a violation of their personal liberties. Because the mandates are completely irrational is unconscionable.

    Well wearing a mask indoors is a mandate from the Governor and neither of them had an issue with that last night. So I guess they pick and choose which mandates violate their liberties on a daily basis.


  9. - WestBurbs - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 10:56 am:

    Rich - this is exactly correct and well said: “If your conscience tells you not to be tested regularly for a debilitating and potentially fatal disease after refusing to take a safe vaccine, there’s something very, very wrong with your conscience. Making heroes out of these two without making that clear is beyond irresponsible”


  10. - Pundent - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 10:58 am:

    =“We’ll let General Assembly members know right up front that if you vote for changes to this act, we’re going to make sure your constituents are aware that you voted for changes to that act,” he said.=

    So the FOP is going to make us aware that a law is being modified so it accomplishes its intended purpose? Good.


  11. - zatoichi - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 10:58 am:

    So ‘personal liberties’ + ‘based on conscience’ = ‘I don’t wanna’. Real mature attitude to teach students about safety in social settings.


  12. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 10:59 am:

    The HCRCA is another in a long line of poorly worded statutes that should definitely be amended. Sometimes you wonder how much thought is put into this stuff.


  13. - Not invisible - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 11:09 am:

    -The same people who are opposed to everything health related, also seem to be overrepresented in having DUI and/or domestic violence arrests.-

    Could you be any more ridiculous? One has absolutely nothing to do do with the other, and I’m sure you are all perfect parents.


  14. - Sir Reel - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 11:13 am:

    Ron, I believe the answer is, very little.


  15. - Rudy’s teeth - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 11:14 am:

    Perhaps the Koens should change their last name to the Oxymorons. Emphasis on morons. They are educated individuals yet do not support science.


  16. - Leap Day William - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 11:19 am:

    == The same people who are opposed to everything health related, also seem to be overrepresented in having DUI and/or domestic violence arrests. ==

    == Could you be any more ridiculous? One has absolutely nothing to do do with the other, and I’m sure you are all perfect parents. ==

    Not for nothing, but in the areas around me, the Venn diagram of “owners of restaurants who were openly defying indoor dining restrictions” and “people with at least one DUI, DV, or Assault/Battery charge on their record” was practically a circle.

    Correlation does not equal causation, but there sure seems to be a lot of coincidence that people who have a history of anger and authority issues in their life are quick to continue those patterns in very vocal and public ways.


  17. - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 11:38 am:

    “I’m fairly certain that the majority of Illinoisans will find it ridiculous for the unvaxed to use a “conscience” excuse to opt out of regular COVID testing”

    That is likely true, but revising a law to target a small/vocal group claiming religious liberty, JB may be stirring up pushback. JB could be seen as bullying, The Catholic/Evangelical voters take the Health Care Right of Conscience Act very serious.


  18. - Peter Torque - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 11:44 am:

    Probably worth noting that this is not Ms. Koen’s first bite at the Covid rebellion apple: https://newschannel20.com/news/local/north-mac-high-goes-remote-unknown-if-nearby-homecoming-a-factor


  19. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 11:45 am:

    @Betty:

    We’re talking about teachers and police, neither of which can work from home.

    And, to your point in general, just because someone has been working from home doesn’t necessarily mean they should be able to do so permanently. There are lots of factors that go into such a decision.


  20. - disappointed - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 11:50 am:

    But the Gov’s proposed language is so limited it does not leave the door open for other possible public health directives that may become critical in ending the pandemic in the future. For example, what about schools/health departments requiring students to quarantine? Could I have a conscience objection to that too?

    It is such a poorly written law and a real disappointment that the Gov is not proposing to address those larger ambiguities and deficiencies given the potential other ways this law could be use to undermine public health now that it has gained traction.


  21. - Person 8 - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 11:50 am:

    Anyway for the state to revoke their tier 1 pensions if they get fired?


  22. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 12:02 pm:

    @Demoralized

    Teachers have been working from home since everyone else started working from home. Depending on their specific duties, I’ll bet there are police who work from home.


  23. - Not invisible - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 12:03 pm:

    But, pensions are a promise, or so I hear. You people are unreal, this isn’t Ebola.


  24. - Thomas Paine - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 12:04 pm:

    === I’m fairly certain that the majority of Illinoisans will find it ridiculous for the unvaxed to use a “conscience” excuse to opt out of regular COVID testing. ===

    Anyone pinning their re-election hopes on a groundswell of anti-mask/anti-test/anti-vax support is in for a rude awakening.

    Also, don’t be shocked when Ken Griffin won’t return your calls.


  25. - TheInvisibleMan - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 12:05 pm:

    Well observation that seems to have struck a nerve. I wonder why that could be.

    == quick to continue those patterns in very vocal and public ways. ==

    Back in August a guy was refusing to wear a mask at the school board meeting, and refusing to leave. He was charged with trespassing and had to be removed by the police.

    He also has a DUI.

    Patterns of personality are just that. Patterns.


  26. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 12:16 pm:

    ===this isn’t Ebola===

    Correct. I think we maybe had one death from Ebola in the entire nation and the GOP freaked out.


  27. - Roadrager - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 12:25 pm:

    ==You people are unreal, this isn’t Ebola.==

    This is very accurate on your part. Ebola is transmitted through direct contact, usually bodily fluid, and there are no recorded deaths of people who caught the Ebola virus inside the United States. The country’s last Ebola panic, in 2014, involved a total of 11 cases domestically and coming in from abroad.

    So yes, COVID-19 is definitely not Ebola. I don’t know if that was the point you wanted to make, though.


  28. - Dotnonymous - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 12:25 pm:

    “They sound like the public education version of Mark Janus.”

    As predicted…


  29. - Pundent - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:02 pm:

    =The Catholic/Evangelical voters take the Health Care Right of Conscience Act very serious.=

    The Cardinal and the Pope have both spoken in favor of the vaccine and made clear that the doctrine has no problem with it.

    Perhaps the people that take this “very serious” have a conscience that resists being told what to do by Democratic leaders. But that seems to be outside of the scope of the Act.


  30. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:20 pm:

    ==Anyway for the state to revoke their tier 1 pensions if they get fired?==

    I would think so. No different than Governors Ryan and Blago forfeiting their pensions due to their crimes, and if there were other state employees or teachers fired due to a felony (e.g., Candace Wanzo).


  31. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:21 pm:

    =Koen and Keys have cited “personal liberties” as motives for defying the governor’s mandate. Neither said they were budging from their positions as they and several supporters, including fellow teachers, addressed the board in the public comment section.

    “That they’ve taken (our livelihoods) from us over something that is completely illegal and completely irrational is unconscionable,” Keys said of the mandate.=

    =Anyway for the state to revoke their tier 1 pensions if they get fired?=

    No, don’t be silly. Losing their job is more than enough for their stupidity.

    =That is likely true, but revising a law to target a small/vocal group claiming religious liberty, JB may be stirring up pushback.=

    What the ILGA (not JB) is doing is actually preserving the law and shaping it so that it does what it is intended to do. Catholics and evangelicals would be wise to embrace and support this fix that will preserve the intended purpose and end the abuse/cost and time wasting by those who are intent on abusing the law.

    =But, pensions are a promise, or so I hear.=

    More than that, in Illinois pensions are a legal and constitutional obligation. But, kudos for seeing it our way.

    Clearly these are not civics teachers. There is no civil liberty protection on masking or vaccination. None. Anyone making that assertion has never read the constitution.

    = JS Mill can correct me if I’m wrong.=

    You are correct. This is a common action to encourage people to fix a problem that can be fixed versus something that is “non remediable” like hurting a student which can result in immediate termination. The district is well advised by legal counsel.


  32. - Norseman - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 1:29 pm:

    === Sometimes you wonder how much thought is put into this stuff. ===

    Not enough on a lot of things presented as a religious issue. I saw that first hand.

    This law has to be changed. Not just because of COVID, but to ensure the use of existing and future vaccines that have and will in the future save lives.


  33. - Roadrager - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 2:00 pm:

    ==With a questionable vax. With a questionable intentions==

    It’s only “questionable” to those who demand it be so.


  34. - Candy Dogood - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 2:05 pm:

    ===The state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act was intended to allow health care workers, especially those at Roman Catholic hospitals, to deny the distribution of emergency contraceptives to patients seeking abortion===

    I am late to the party on this, but this bill was basically intended to shield healthcare providers from consequences based off of denying the rights of their patients due to their religious bigotry.

    While it’s being hijacked by folks who also don’t prioritize the health or responsibilities to others, it might be worth completely ditching this law all together because it’s also used by healthcare providers as a basis for denying treatment to LGBT individuals. It legalizes providers refusing to acknowledge, discuss, support, or even in some cases provide mental healthcare to gay and lesbian patients. It also allows physicians to flat out refuse to provide healthcare to trans patients and legalizes providers doing petty things, like repeatedly referring to trans individuals by their sex assigned at birth rather than, you know, not making every conversation with their healthcare provider an avenue for worsening mental health conditions.

    This law protects bigots.

    We can call protecting bigotry protecting individual rights, but as a society perhaps we should recognize that when entering a profession like medicine or public service you are in some cases literally taking an oath to place others before your dark age inspired hatred towards others.

    The law isn’t broken, it’s working the way it was intended. Instead of trying to figure out how to protect the right religious bigots while being able to force other public employees to be vaccinated, how about we just get rid of the law.

    If you want to be a physician, if you want to run a hospital, you have to provide healthcare.

    Reproductive care, even abortions, are healthcare.

    Women are human beings too. They have rights.

    LGBTQ folks are human beings too. They have rights.

    If your religious beliefs take precedent over the rights of your patients, maybe you shouldn’t be a physician, therapist, physicians assistant, or nurse.


  35. - bkhartbnjo - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 3:32 pm:

    Thank you, Candy Dogood.


  36. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 6:15 pm:

    ==But, pensions are a promise, or so I hear.==

    I’ll believe it when I see it when I retire. I’m Tier 1 but I don’t plan to retire when I reach the Rule of 85, nor do I count my pension (or even Deferred Comp) in my personal retirement planning. Just my Roth IRA and another mutual fund with better returns on interest than what the State has.


  37. - Proud Papa Bear - Tuesday, Oct 19, 21 @ 7:41 pm:

    “Clearly these are not civics teachers.”
    One would hope.
    The civics teachers at my school were the ones at our board meeting asserting they indeed were protected from mandates and making vague but non-cited references to the Illinois and US Constitutions.


  38. - JadedRabbit - Wednesday, Oct 20, 21 @ 5:05 pm:

    “If your conscience tells you not to be tested regularly for a debilitating and potentially fatal disease after refusing to take a safe vaccine, there’s something very, very wrong with your conscience.”

    Give me Liberty or Give me Death.
    -Patrick Henry

    The medical community is still out on this being a “safe” vaccine as the long term effects have yet to be quantified. Additionally, a specific vaccine may have a specific side affect. There is a reason they make people wait 10 minutes after receiving the vaccine before leaving.


  39. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 20, 21 @ 5:13 pm:

    === Give me Liberty or Give me Death.
    -Patrick Henry===

    Athletics are a privilege, not a right.

    Not one person said you can’t choose not to take a vaccine, or even require a vaccine..,

    … but choices have consequences.

    You can be vaccine-free… but… choices… consequences.

    I mean, freedom and all.


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