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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The governor of Illinois is forcing pro-life doctors to violate their religious beliefs.
In a sweeping move Friday, Republican governor Bruce Rauner sided with state Democrats by signing into law Senate Bill 1564 (SB 1564), legislation which notably alters the state's previous Health Care Right of Conscience Act. The proposed law originally passed the Illinois state senate in April, with the 34 to 19 vote running strictly along party lines as no Republicans supported the bill.
The devise law, which is set to be implemented at the beginning of 2017, mandates health care professionals, despite deeply held religious beliefs or potential violations of conscience, refer patients for abortions, in addition to counseling individuals on the alleged benefits of the procedure. There is no language in the bill, however, requiring medical professionals to provide information regarding adoption or parenting.
"We are extremely disappointed in Gov. Rauner for siding with pro-abortion Democrats by signing SB 1564 and expanding abortions in Illinois," stated Emily Zender of Illinois Right to Life in a press release following the approval of the bill. "This radical bill is a direct assault on the consciences of medical professionals and the missions of community supported pregnancy help centers."
Continuing, Zender notes scientific research has already revealed "abortion ends the life of a preborn child, and for Illinoisans to be forced to participate in any way in abortion is a tremendous injustice."
Other pro-life activists revealed similar sentiments. “This is sad and tragic news,” remarked Ann Scheidler from the Pro-Life Action League, based in Illinois. "The medical professionals in the state of Illinois deserve to practice their healing art within the freedom of conscience. The pro-life pregnancy centers should be protected from giving exactly the advice that goes against everything they stand for. They will not do it."
Both organizations were actively involved in fighting the passage of SB 1564, in addition to the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Thomas More Society, which are both expected to challenge the bill as being unconstitutional.
Critics of SB 1564 believe their case has a chance in court, as the language of the law restricts medical professionals who refuse to perform abortions to "one of three options," all of which involve some level of involvement in the procedure. "Either they must "refer the patient" to another provider, "transfer the patient" to another provider, or provide a list of "other health care providers who they reasonably believe may offer the health care service," explains Jay Hobbs of Pregnancy Help News.
This, he argues, is the real legal "issue" with SB 1564.
Writing prior to Gov. Rauner's approval of the bill, Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defending Freedom stated:
This Amendment takes away the rights of Illinois women to be treated by a pro-life doctor, because it would force medical facilities and physicians who conscientiously object to performing abortions (and other procedures) to refer for, make arrangements for someone else to perform, or arrange referral information that lists willing providers, for abortions. By violating the pro-life principles of pro-life physicians and medical organizations, the Amendment would deprive Illinois women of their choice of a medical provider that does not refer for or arrange for abortions in any way.
Cases similar to Illinois have already spring up in major cities across the country, including Austin, Baltimore and New York City.
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