This letter originally appeared in the Rockford Register Star on August 10, 2017.
We are disappointed by a recent decision of the U.S. District Court that blocks some of the critical patient protections the General Assembly recently incorporated into the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act. The amendment at issue ensures that when patients in Illinois go to their health care providers, they are given all of the information they need to make the best decisions for their own care, regardless of their provider’s religious beliefs.
We were the lead proponents in changing a decades-old statute that unfairly allowed health care providers to withhold care and even information from their patients if the health care provider objected on religious grounds. The law shielded providers from the legal consequences of their actions and need to be changed in the interest of patient safety and care.
Sadly, court challenges to the recent amendment mischaracterize its intent and application. The amendment is not about abortion — it is about the basic ethical obligations that doctors owe their patients. It is about protecting patients and ensuring they get information consistent with the standard of care that we all expect when we visit a doctor or a health care provider. The court’s decision blocking these critical patient protections brings religion into the exam room and leaves patients in the dark.
This is dangerous. There’s a reason that no major health care provider or organization opposed the amendment when it was before the General Assembly. We feel confident that as this litigation proceeds, the courts will see the importance of protecting Illinois patients and uphold the new law.
— Lorie Chaiten, director of the Women’s and Reproductive Rights Project, American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois