Pro-life doctors are pushing back against Illinois’ law requiring them to assist with abortions, regardless of their deeply-held beliefs.
In 2016, Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois signed a state law forcing pregnancy centers, doctors, and other medical professionals to promote and assist in abortions, even if they objected on conscience grounds. By law, doctors in Illinois are required to provide information about abortions and recommend health care providers who can perform the abortions. (via FOX News)
The law is an amendment to Illinois’ Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which, ironically, respects the “conscience of all persons” and prevents the discrimination of medical professionals who “refuse to act contrary to their conscience”.
The new bill has had many medical professionals in an uproar and has inspired one obstetrician, Dr. Robert Lawler, to challenge the bill as unconstitutional in a lawsuit. When questioned about the decision in an interview on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Dr. Lawler said, “I’m an obstetrician, so by the very nature I have two patients: the mother and a baby.”
Dr. Lawler feels the law imposes on his conscience rights and is appalled that the state would require him to go against his morals.“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,” he stated.
Emily Zender, executive director of Illinois Right to Life, an organization affiliated with the well-known National Right to Life, agrees that the bill seemingly ignores healthcare professional’s moral rights, “This radical bill is a direct assault on the consciences of medical professionals and the missions of the community supported pregnancy help centers.”
Lawler is one among many pro-life doctors boycotting the law, despite running the risk of losing their medical licensing. In a statement, Dr. Lawler said, “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. I became a physician to help people, not to harm them.”
Many on the left have praised the Republican governor’s decision to support the law, claiming that it “defends women’s rights”. But in a press release by Matt Bowman, Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said bills like this, “… rob women of the right to choose a pro-life doctor by forcing pro-life physicians and entities to make or arrange abortion referrals.”
ADF, a legal organization dedicated to defending religious liberty, also pointed out that the federal Coats-Snowe amendment prevents state and local governments that receive federal funding from passing laws that discriminate against any healthcare organization that refuses to arrange abortions or provide referrals to entities that do. There’s a strong argument to be made, then, that this Illinois law in clear violation of the amendment.
It is promising that while such egregious bills have been passed — not only in Illinois but other states — many doctors are speaking out. There is hope that with the help of pro-life organizations and legal groups like Alliance Defending Freedom, Illinois’s law will be overturned. The government cannot be permitted to force doctors to participate in abortion or any activity that ends a human life or violates conscience rights.