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Disinformation, misinformation and hate abound on HCRCA amendment

Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021

* Hannah Meisel

So far, employing Illinois’ HCRCA has proven an effective legal strategy for a small group of nurses at a Kankakee hospital, who this week won temporary protection from getting fired over their refusal to get their COVID shots. It’s also worked for employees at a trio of medical groups in Quincy, who were spared from terminations over their workplaces’ vaccine mandates earlier this month.

Other lawsuits, including those filed on behalf of teachers, go even further in trying to use the law to get out of regular COVID testing — offered as an alternative to getting vaccinated — and mask wearing at school. […]

It’s unclear how many lawsuits have been filed in Illinois so far using the HCRCA as a legal rationale to beat employers’ vaccine mandates; litigation has been initiated in many of Illinois’ 102 county circuit courts, in addition to federal courts. But since Pritzker is often named as a defendant in the suits, the eight cases the Attorney General’s office is defending the governor in is a decent gauge for the trend.

And Ashley Wright, chief of legislative affairs at the Attorney General’s office, said there’s reason to believe the spigot of litigation is just getting started. Wright told lawmakers Tuesday afternoon that the only way to stem the wave of lawsuits is to approve an amendment to the HCRCA this week, and warned that failure to do so could mean the functional collapse of Pritzker’s many COVID mitigation orders.

“To be clear, if we leave Springfield doing nothing on this issue, we’ll be walking back from all the progress that we’ve made so far…on all the mitigation efforts that we’ve made,” Wright said. “And that includes masks and testing. Not passing this bill ultimately means that the state cannot keep people safe.”

* Mark Maxwell

Catholic bishops opposed weakening the law, criticizing government desire for “expediency,” but Bishop Thomas John Paprocki from the Springfield Diocese said employers who mandate Coronavirus tests as an alternative to vaccines are “reasonable.”

“The Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act was not intended to cover things like testing or taking precautions like wearing a mask,” Paprocki said. “I think that’s just common sense.”

Several Facebook groups that have rallied supporters to oppose vaccine mandates recruited their followers to fill out witness slips on the General Assembly’s website. Within 24 hours, nearly 50,000 witness slips appeared online from people claiming they opposed the House amendment to the Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

“It’s an organized effort of misinformation, and it’s very concerning to me,” Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) said on Tuesday night after the committee approved her bill.

Some of the critics who opposed vaccine mandates also sent menacing threats to her office. In a Facebook message Gabel’s office sent to law enforcement, one man from the Rockford area referred to her bill as “rape by needle,” and threatened to force a medical procedure on Gabel against her consent. Others leveled vile, sexist insults, or referred to her as “Satan,” or a “witch.”

“I think it’s unfair,” she said. “I think it’s unreasonable, and it’s scary.”

Legal experts say federal law and established case law protect an employer’s right to enforce vaccine mandates. Gabel argues her proposal wouldn’t change the existing power to enforce mandates, it would simply remove an illegitimate excuse people have used to try and skirt the vaccine or testing requirements.

* They’re such pleasant folks…


* People would still be able to apply for and even obtain a religious exemption, but employers wouldn’t be punished under state law for denying one. This is a misunderstanding of what’s going on now

Democratic state Rep. LaShawn Ford said the amendment isn’t ready and may be the wrong approach to encourage vaccination.

“We have to make sure that we convince people that taking the vaccine is the right thing to do and make sure that they still have that option to have their doctor give the exemption and to make sure they get the religious exemption,” Ford said. “So those are important for me that we maintain the right to.”

* Meanwhile

Operators of licensed day cares in Illinois say the governor’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on the industry will make a staffing crisis even more acute. […]

Sarah Stoliker with Illinois Directors and Owners of Childcare Centers agreed.

“We’re not opposed to public health measures that will help bring this pandemic to an end, but there has to be a balance,” Stoliker said in an interview.

Yeah, very reasonable person…

I asked her group’s spokesperson for a comment on that post yesterday and it has since apparently been removed.

* Related…

* Editorial: Illinois should end moral, religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccination and testing: “In multiple cases, ostensibly religious reasons to decline immunization actually reflected concerns about vaccine safety or personal beliefs among a social network of people organized around a faith community, rather than theologically based objections per se,” the report states.

* Judge ‘Puzzled’ by Chicago Firefighters’ Vaccine Lawsuit: During Tuesday’s 45-minute hearing, which was held by videoconference, Lee asked several pointed questions to plaintiffs’ attorney Jonathan Lubin, including why forcing employees to disclose their vaccination status was even a constitutional issue at all. “I look puzzled because I am puzzled,” Lee said. “Because don’t we have to disclose medical information for all sorts of different jobs? Why is this any different?” In his response, Lubin started to argue that the “political nature” of the vaccine debate with COVID-19 could not be divorced from the legal issues — but the judge cut him off. “I don’t care about the political,” Lee said. “This is a court of law.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Bothanspied - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 9:55 am:

     “I think that’s just common sense.”

    You would be wrong.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 9:58 am:

    === Catholic bishops opposed weakening the law, criticizing government desire for “expediency,” but Bishop Thomas John Paprocki from the Springfield Diocese said employers who mandate Coronavirus tests as an alternative to vaccines are “reasonable.”===

    The Pope seemingly disagrees, but that’s another place where the church and the faith differ, you can say some Bishops are “Cafeteria Catholics” if you string this idea of vaccines to its end.

    Science and faith can and do coexist, the problem becomes how far will faith go to diminish science even at the cost of the health of the flock?

  3. - Flyin' Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:00 am:

    I’ve interviewed a few rape victims in my former career.

    That fool screaming “rape by needle” needs a good gravel-road *** beating.

  4. - Phenomynous - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:04 am:

    Why don’t they just mandate the vaccine/testing requirement in statute like they do for a myriad of other communicable diseases?

  5. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:04 am:

    A snippet, from Vatican News… By Devin Watkins

    ===The Pope has joined his voice to those of Bishops across North and South America to urge people to get jabbed against Covid-19.

    In a video message produced in conjunction with the Ad Council, Pope Francis praised the work of researchers and scientists in producing safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines.
    “Thanks to God’s grace and to the work of many, we now have vaccines to protect us from Covid-19,” he said in the video released on Wednesday.

    He added that vaccines “bring hope to end the pandemic, but only if they are available to all and if we collaborate with one another.”

    Vaccination is an act of love

    Pope Francis went on to say that getting a Covid jab that is “authorized by the respective authorities” is an “act of love.”===

    It’s confusing, as the Catholic that I am, that any Bishop sees these words by the Pontiff as maybe “too far” and shots are not an “act of love”

    Very cafeteria Catholic if you ask me.

  6. - Norseman - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:13 am:

    === disinformation, misinformation and hate abound ===

    The sad theme that pervades today’s America.

  7. - Wow - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:16 am:

    Simply terrible how badly the 2nd floor has played this. Issue was a slam dunk to pass.. Gov staff did him a disservice.

  8. - flea - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:17 am:

    The Holy Goalie should stick to preaching the bible.
    Perhaps he can learn about how to interact with your fellow man in the “good book”.

  9. - TheInvisibleMan - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:20 am:

    “We’re not opposed to public health measures that will help bring this pandemic to an end”

    Having looked at her facebook profile, she certainly does appear to be opposed to every single public health measure so far.

    I see she is also quite active with the will county republicans as well. What a surprise they keep showing up.

  10. - DirtLawyer - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:21 am:

    Having been a lay leader at my diocese I’m appalled but not surprised by the position of the Catholic Conference. Maybe my annual check to the bishop’s appeal will get lost in the mail.

    I can’t even fathom the mess we will have because of a poorly written law which everyone knows was for abortions being applied to vaccines. Kankakee and Quincy will only be the beginning unless and until the appellate and supreme courts work it out.

    The GA has been on the sideline. Ok. It is what is is. Now it’s put up or shut up time. Pritzker took almost all the flak. But do they have 71 votes for our public health?

  11. - here we go - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:21 am:

    Thank you Facebook!

    If Facebook is allowed to continue for the next ten years, as someone said, we will all hate each other. Their algorithms encourage hate and violence. The platform needs to come down. The kids running the show are so far over their heads they don’t realize it.

  12. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:23 am:

    === Issue was a slam dunk to pass===


  13. - Flyin' Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:28 am:

    Listen to any “interview” granted by Zuckerberg.

    Then remember he is the head of an unregulated, broadcasting device that anyone in the world can use as long as they have internet capability.

  14. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:35 am:

    Common sense ain’t so common, I should know.

    I realize a lot of folks are confused how anyone could reasonable oppose masks and testing, so I will try to explain.

    First, these are not reasonable people. Whether you think they are a cult or a domestic terrorist group or both, the people who stormed the capital on January 6th are the nucleus of a loose organization of millions who believe that terror and violence are legitimate tools.

    They refuse to wear masks in public and don’t want to get tested in their workplaces because the threat of infecting others is something they weaponize, it is a tool of terror. They believe making others feel afraid or uncomfortable is a political right. We have seen them staging unmasked sit-ins in New York, we have seen police officers manhandle citizens for asking them to wear a mask in accordance with the law.

  15. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:39 am:

    =Some of the critics who opposed vaccine mandates also sent menacing threats to her office=

    Tough stuff. School boards and admins have been getting lambasted with worse and no state police help.

    The HCRA has been miss applied and everyone knows it. The church should embrace the changes because it strengthens the protections that they want.

    This is a huge miss by the church.

    And the ILGA absolutely needs to get on the stick and get something done.

  16. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:40 am:

    ===“The Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act was not intended to cover things like testing or taking precautions like wearing a mask,” Paprocki said. “I think that’s just common sense.”===

    Exactly right. It was only intended to protect bigots who want to discriminate against women and LGBTQ folks.

  17. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:43 am:

    Well said @Thomas Paine.

    Our police are an ever growing concern. There appears to be zero pushback by the rank and file against the authoritarian leanings of some of their fellow officers. It creates and impression that this is their mainstream thinking.

    Hard to believe the rule enforcers think that it is ok to not follow the rules.

  18. - Boone's is Back - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:43 am:

    It’s beyond the point where you can reason with these kinds of people. Never mind that they had to get a laundry list of vaccinations if they attended school (big if there). I just don’t know what you say anymore.

  19. - Jibba - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:43 am:

    People like Paprocki only appeal to reason and common sense when their backs are against the wall.

  20. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:44 am:

    Seeing the way this law is being abused and how unfair it is to women in the first place, I’m good with just repealing the HCRCA entirely or at least eliminating the treble damages.

    Medical providers don’t deserve a windfall for providing substandard care just because they think their political beliefs are more important than their patients’ health.

  21. - The Ford Lawyer - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:52 am:

    Oswego Willie- I don’t think His Holiness and the Bishops are very far apart. USCCB says the vaccine is ok and is probably a good idea anyway, but they are opposed to forcing anyone to get the vaccine. Correct me if I am mistaken, but I don’t think Papa Francisco has ever supported mandated vaccinations. Very Rev. Thomas John has now come out in support of voluntary vaccines and mandatory testing if you don’t want to get the shot, which evidently is not good enough for the extreme anti-vaxxers. But I think if you are on the right, and you’ve lost Bishop Thomas John, you’ve pretty much fallen off the right edge of the map.

  22. - Pundent - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 10:56 am:

    =disinformation, misinformation and hate abound=

    It never really went away. It’s just far easier to disseminate information these days often times anonymously. And the media then amplifies these voices to create the illusion that this is representative of our society as a whole. We gravitate to the most outrageous and unhinged comments and think that somehow they reflect a large portion of our society. In most instances they do not.

  23. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 11:20 am:

    ===I don’t think His Holiness and the Bishops are very far apart. USCCB says the vaccine is ok and is probably a good idea anyway, but they are opposed to forcing anyone to get the vaccine.===

    The real difference is the Bishops politicizing the taking or not taking of the vaccine, using political matrix…

    … the Pope advocating for vaccinations for the love of your fellow man and woman, and eradicating the virus through science and vaccines.

    That’s a pretty big gap when you factor in that the Pope is coming from a religious angle for humanity and the Bishops are using a political angle to be cafeteria Catholics.

    I’m not saying your wrong or I wholly disagree with your premise, but if you put it in the political lens the Bishops want, it’s a big gap.

  24. - Dotnonymous - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 12:10 pm:

    Facebook coalesces and connects the already existing hateful…like an algorithmic funnel…by accident?

  25. - ArchPundit - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 1:14 pm:

    —Papa Francisco has ever supported mandated vaccinations

    The Vatican is requiring it of all employees. Not surprisingly, there is no religious exemption.

  26. - ArchPundit - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 1:21 pm:

    ===nd to make sure they get the religious exemption,” Ford said. “So those are important for me that we maintain the right to.”

    Why? There are virtually no sects that prohibit vaccines. If there is no actual doctrine we are simply falling into a sincerely held belief which is a silly standard given a sincerely held belief doesn’t mean the belief has any justification or evidence to support it.

  27. - PurpleDog - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 2:03 pm:

    The Vatican is allowing for covid testing for those not vaccinated. So the mandate ArchPundit says is not a true mandate.

    The Ford Lawyer is correct.

    Ive written this before on this blog: The congregation for the doctrine of the faith has come out and said “vaccines must be voluntary.“ The congregation for the doctrine of the faith is the actual teaching arm of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis is in line with this.

    The pope says it is “an act of love“ to get the shot. It is also an act of love to give money to a homeless person. But it is not mandatory to give them money.

  28. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 2:34 pm:

    - PurpleDog -

    The problem is with Bishops whom feel this political need to insert themselves not to the religious aspects.

    That’s the divide with the Pope.

    Deciding to be charitable, it’s always a bit creepy to the religious paradigm of people as to what is meant by charity and their own “values”… like a cafeteria type of choices, but I digress.

  29. - ArchPundit - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 3:01 pm:

    ===“vaccines must be voluntary.“

    This statement is not about state action, but about whether the Catholic Church and the faith requires the vaccine.

    All of this is irrelevant to government, of course.

  30. - Sharia Capo - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 3:59 pm:

    Why privilege religiosity? We should allow rational opt-outs, such as for having already recovered, no?

  31. - ArchPundit - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 4:12 pm:

    ===such as for having already recovered, no?

    No, that’s not rational given the research. I’ll ask the same question I asked yesterday. Why do people believe someone like Dennis Prager over actual doctors?

  32. - danray - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 5:38 pm:

    The social media comments are so, so vile. What is wrong with people that they feel empowered to spew this crud? Unreal.

  33. - Manchester - Wednesday, Oct 27, 21 @ 8:55 pm:

    Dear Bishops, sit down and be quiet. You don’t run the world and for that I am very thankful.

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