Religious refusals are a growing threat in Illinois and across the nation. Each of us has the right to our individual religious beliefs, but the exercise of religious freedom does not include the right to impose our beliefs on others. The Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby – allowing employers to use their religious beliefs to justify denying employees birth control under their insurance – is just the most recent, public example of this threat; and, the Supreme Court GOT IT WRONG!
Religious refusals, or denials, occur when businesses, professionals or employers refuse to provide information, services, health care or benefits because they object on religious grounds. On a daily basis, health care providers impose their religious restrictions on women: hospitals refuse to properly treat pregnant women who are miscarrying; emergency rooms refuse to provide emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors; ambulance drivers refuse to transfer women seeking abortion care; doctors refuse to prescribe contraception; pharmacist refuse to fill prescriptions for contraception; and, of course, employers refuse to cover contraception in their insurance plans.
And this is all without regard to the religious beliefs or medical needs of the patients.
LGBT people suffer similarly at the hands of those who would distort the concept of religious liberty: state-licensed and subsidized adoption agencies have refused to place children for foster care or adoptions with same-sex couples; LGBT couples seeking to start a family have been denied assisted reproductive medical services; businesses have asserted the right to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples in providing photographs, catering services and public accommodations.
The right to practice one’s religion, or no religion, is a core component of our civil liberties and is fiercely protected by ACLU. But those rights do not permit the imposition of one person’s religious obligations on others.
The ACLU of Illinois is fighting back against the use of religion to discriminate, and we need your help! If you have been the victim of this kind of discrimination, or you have a story to share, tell us here.