SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - New legislation in Illinois would strike a balance between a medical provider's religious beliefs and what's in the best interest of the patient. Current state law allows doctors, nurses and other health care providers to refuse care based on the provider's religious beliefs.
Lorie Chaiten, director of the Reproductive Rights Project with the ACLU of Illinois says, SB 1564 seeks to strike a balance by ensuring patient safety while allowing religious refusal.
"But to do so they have to have in place protocols and procedures that assure the patient gets access to the information they need," she says. "About their treatment options, about where they can get care and that the patient isn't harmed as a result of the religious refusal."
Chaiten says rape victims in need of emergency contraception, and families facing end-of-life decisions are among those impacted by religious restrictions in Illinois. SB 1564 was introduced last week and is pending in the Senate Assignments Committee.
The current law dates to the 1970s and Chaiten says 80 percent of recently polled voters said they want it repealed or modified.
"We have lived under this Healthcare Right of Conscience Act for decades in this state and it doesn't protect patients," says Chaiten. "We've had an Illinois Appellate Court rule that the religious beliefs of the provider trump the interests of the patient and that isn't good enough for Illinois."
That 2012 court ruling allowed pharmacists to refuse to dispense certain contraceptives on religious grounds.