A pro-life doctor in
SB 1564 narrowly passed the Illinois House on party lines before being signed into law by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. Under the law, which amends the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act, doctors are required to provide information to patients about the “benefits” of abortion. It indicates that medical personnel must “inform a patient of the patient's condition, prognosis, legal treatment options, and risks and benefits of the treatment options in a timely manner consistent with current standards of medical practice.”
The law mandates that physicians who are unwilling to provide the requested service “because the healthcare service is contrary to the conscience of the healthcare facility, physician, or healthcare personnel” must refer the patient to someone who will.
But those opposed to abortion contend that asking them to refer patients to someone who will provide them abortion services continues to violate their consciences.
Besides the obvious implications the law has on abortion, the National Review notes that the law also impacts how medical professionals are to treat patients with gender dysphoria, as it requires physicians to counsel them on the “benefits” of sex reassignment. It would also require doctors to counsel terminally ill patients on assisted suicide, despite their moral opposition to it.
The law is being challenged by pro-life obstetrician Dr. Robert Lawler, who, in an appearance on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, called the law “truly egregious” and pointed out that it violates conscience rights. "I'm an obstetrician, so by the very nature, I have two patients: the mother and a baby," Lawler said. "And it's ludicrous to think that I could refer my patients off, one to be executed and the other to be mortally wounded for the rest of her life with a sense of regret."
For Dr. Lawler, rather than providing his patients information on abortion or referring them to someone who may provide that information, he would like to help his patients find an alternative to abortion. "I cannot and will not comply with this law that is a complete affront to my conscience beliefs — my firmly held religious beliefs — that life is sacred," Lawler said. "I became a physician to help people, not to harm them."
Dr. Lawler is joined by two pregnancy help centers in the lawsuit against the
In an interview with the Daily Wire, Notre Dame law professor Rick Garnett said the law appears to be an “imposition” on religious freedom:
In my view, the
The defenders of the
Those who violate the law face penalties, and Dr. Lawler expressed concern that the law will eventually be used to strip non-compliant physicians of their medical licenses during his conversation with Tucker Carlson. “I guess that's where this is heading, isn't it, down the road?” Lawler asked rhetorically.
Unfortunately, the Left does not believe that medical professionals have a right to conscientious objections, particularly when they are based on Christian values (i.e., pro-life, anti-transgenderism, pro-traditional marriage, etc.). Earlier this year, Bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel and Ronit Y. Stahl, a fellow in Advanced Biomedical Ethics, co-authored an attack on medical conscience in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, in which they claim that personal morality should not exist in medicine. In their piece, “Physicians, Not Conscripts — Conscientious Objection in Health Care,” they write,
Making the patient paramount means offering and providing accepted medical interventions in accordance with patients’ reasoned decisions. Thus, a health care professional cannot deny patients access to medications for mental health conditions, sexual dysfunction, or contraception on the basis of their conscience, since these drugs are professionally accepted as appropriate medical interventions.
The authors use this rationale to justify forcing doctors to perform abortions because they claim that while abortion is politically controversial, it is “not medically controversial.”
Stahl and Emanuel ultimately conclude that there is no place in modern medicine for those who have conscientious objections:
Health care professionals who are unwilling to accept these limits have two choices: select an area of medicine, such as radiology, that will not put them in situations that conflict with their personal morality or, if there is no such area, leave the profession.
This attack on medical professionals who dare to take moral stands has taken various forms beyond what is taking place in
Earlier this year, for example, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against a Catholic hospital in
And doctors in
The problem goes beyond the
No law should ever force an individual to betray his or her own moral convictions. If Dr. Lawler's lawsuit against the Illinois law is successful, it will serve as one important victory in a war launched by the Left to use science and medicine as a weapon against conservative, Christian ideals.
Photo of pregnant patient: Clipart.com