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HomeHealth CareGov. Pritzker Signs Law to Ensure COVID-19 Protections

Gov. Pritzker Signs Law to Ensure COVID-19 Protections

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As expected, the Pritzker administration is continuing it's misinformation campaign about what SB 1169 actually is and what effect it has. Instead of amending the HCRCA and creating an exception for the Governor's COVID-19 policies, his administration chose to take the path of least resistance by passing a bill that says SB 1169 "is a declaration of existing law and shall not be construed as a new enactment." The argument–and blatant lie–put forward by the Attorney General's office and Democratic legislators was that the HCRCA was never intended to protect the right of individuals who would be recipients of healthcare to refuse healthcare, and specifically COVID-19 vaccination and testing, despite the plain language of the law stating otherwise and several courts having determined that it does protect the rights of individuals to refuse unwanted healthcare. 

Some Democrats in the general assembly defected even with this language and refused to vote in favor of SB 1169. For this reason, SB 1169 had to be amended so that it did not state that it would go into effect immediately and would thereby not require as many votes to pass. It is likely that more Democrat legislators would have defected had SB 1169 been presented as an actual amendment to the HCRCA instead of a "declaration of existing law." Can the current legislature pass a bill that purports to declare what the intent was of the prior general assembly when it passed the HCRCA? Sure, they could pass a bill that declares Hillary Clinton is the President of the Universe and that JB Pritzker is the embodiment of perfect health, but that doesn't make it so. 

What the general assembly did when they passed SB 1169 was twofold. First, they codified the lie that the HCRCA does not say that Illinoisans have a right to refuse COVID-19 related health care based on their conscientious objection, when it clearly says that Illinoisans do have that right. Second, the legislature usurped the exclusive authority of the judicial branch of government to say what an already passed law means. The Illinois Constitution states clearly that “[t]he legislative, executive and judicial branches are separate. No branch shall exercise powers properly belonging to another," and Article VI Section 1 states that “[t]he judicial power is vested in a Supreme Court, an Appellate Court and Circuit Courts.” Any law that violates the Constitution is void ab initio, that's latin for void when it was created. SB 1169 is an abomination. It is unconstitutional. It may have been signed by the Governor and codified as a statute, but it has no force of law. 

It is a lie that 40 years of judicial precedent is in any way "preserved" by SB 1169, as this administration would have you believe.

This law doesn't take effect until June, 2022. Illinoisans can still use the HCRCA to object to all vaccination and testing. Illinois courts will be the final arbiter of whether the HCRCA protects the natural right to refuse unwanted healthcare–not the Governor.

On Tue, Nov 9, 2021 at 10:39 AM Fran Eaton <[email protected]> wrote:

From: "[email protected]" <e-Subscript[email protected]>
Date: Tuesday, November 9, 2021 at 8:18 AM
To: "[email protected]" <[email protected]>
Subject: Gov. Pritzker Signs Law to Ensure COVID-19 Protections

Illinois e-News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 8, 2021

CONTACT
[email protected]

Gov. Pritzker Signs Law to Ensure COVID-19 Protections

Amendment to Health Care Right of Conscience Prevents Law from Misinterpretation and Protects Employers’ Ability to Follow Pandemic Safety Measures

Individuals’ Religious Exemptions Remain Protected Under Federal Law

SPRINGFIELD — At the request of the Attorney General, Governor JB Pritzker today signed SB 1169 into law, clarifying the legislative intent of the Health Care Right of Conscience Act so that it cannot be abused or misinterpreted to jeopardize workplace safety. This amendment will ensure the long tradition of vaccine requirements by employers can continue with regard to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Masks, vaccines, and testing requirements are life-saving measures that keep our workplaces and communities safe,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Keeping workplaces safe is a high priority, and I applaud the General Assembly for ensuring that the Health Care Right of Conscience Act is no longer wrongly used against institutions who are putting safety and science first.”

The Health Care Right of Conscience Act was originally enacted to allow medical professionals to refuse to receive or participate in healthcare services that are contrary to their personal beliefs, including religious or moral objections to specific services, such as abortion.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the law has been improperly invoked to evade employers’ requirements for testing, masking, and vaccines. The misuse of the law’s original intent has put customers, staff, and community members at risk by exposing employers to legal retaliation for enacting life-saving public health measures.

“With Governor Pritzker’s signature today, we continue our effort to keep the people of this state as safe as possible,” said House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D- Westchester). “Despite deliberate attempts to misinform the public, nothing about this law takes away anyone’s rights to claim religious or medical exemption, which are protected by federal law. While only a small minority of people are skirting COVID-19 requirements, our goal is to make sure workers in high-risk environments are doing what’s needed to fulfill their responsibility to public health and keep everyone alive and healthy.”

“I hope this provides clarity to the situation as we work to protect the public’s health and beat back this pandemic that has taken so much from us,” said Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park).

“Today we are taking critical action to protect people in high-risk environments—such as hospitals, veterans’ homes and schools—from the dangers of COVID-19,” said State Representative Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston). “While this law will not take away anyone’s right to claim exemptions based on religion or medical need, it prevents a small group of people from distorting the meaning of the Health Care Right of Consciousness Act and putting some of our most vulnerable members of society in danger. I would like to thank Governor Pritzker for the steps he’s taking today.”

This amendment preserves the legislative intent established by the Act’s 40 years of precedent, clarifying that it is not a violation of the Act to take workplaces measures intended to prevent the spread of deadly, communicable diseases like COVID-19.

The law explicitly reiterates federal protections of sincerely held religious objections.

SB 1169 is effective June 1, 2022.

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