When people seek health care, they do not expect that the treatment and information they are receiving is being limited by others’ religious beliefs. However, on a daily basis, health care providers withhold care, citing religious restrictions – such as the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. These restrictions harm patients by prohibiting a wide range of health care services, including contraception and abortion. Nationally, 1 in 6 hospital beds are in institutions that operate under these broad religious directives, which are promulgated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In Illinois, that number is closer to 1 in 3.
In 2016, Illinois amended the Health Care Right of Conscience Act to ensure that patients get all the information they need in order to make the best decisions about their health care treatment. The law carefully balanced the needs of patients to get complete information about their medical condition with the ability of health care providers to refuse health care services to which they have a religious or conscience objection. Notably, those amendments passed without objection from major health care entities in Illinois, including religiously-affiliated healthcare providers.
A group of anti-abortion activists filed a lawsuit challenging the new law. We represent the interests of health care providers, who believe that law ensures that their patients get the medically-accepted standard of care by being able to seek medical treatment in a timely fashion.