ILLINOIS (ECWd) –
The Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, 745 ILCS 70, protects people from government and businesses inquiring into or mandating any health care issues. This particular law was brought to our attention by Shelby County Board member Dereck Pearcy several months ago. As we waited for multiple attorneys to validate Pearcy’s understanding as well as ours, we now see we finally have lawyers chiming in.
Illinois Review recently published an article on this subject (here), and we urge our readers to mosey on over there to read it.
We urge everyone to read this law and apply it as they see fit.
In September of 2020, an Illinois Court upheld this Act in determining in a preliminary Motion that Nurses can recover triple damages under the Right of Conscience Act – even against public employers and that this Act trumps other older and less specific laws, including TORT. This case was filed in 2016 and has not had a final ruling yet. The next hearing is scheduled for September 16, 2021, in Winnebago County Circuit Court.
Particularly, the Act states the following:
Section 2 states Illinois’ public policy on the issue:
. . . It is the public policy of the State of Illinois to respect and protect the right of conscience of all persons who refuse to obtain, receive or accept, or who are engaged in, the delivery of, arrangement for, or payment of health care services and medical care whether acting individually, corporately, or in association with other persons; and to prohibit all forms of discrimination, disqualification, coercion, disability or imposition of liability upon such persons or entities by reason of their refusing to act contrary to their conscience or conscientious convictions in providing, paying for, or refusing to obtain, receive, accept, deliver, pay for, or arrange for the payment of health care services and medical care. . .
Section 3 defines “Health Care” to include any phase of patient care, including, but not limited to testing, diagnosis, and medication, among others.
Section 5 determines that discrimination is unlawful by stating that it shall be unlawful for any person, public or private institution or public official to discriminate against any person in any manner . . . because of such person’s conscientious refusal to receive, obtain, accept, etc., any particular form of health care. . .
Section 7 prohibits discrimination by employers or institutions – by stating that it is unlawful for any public or private employer, entity, agency, institution, official or person, etc., to deny admission because of . . . to orally question about . . . any forms of health care services contrary to his or her conscience.
Section 8 prohibits denying aid or benefits and declares any such denial as unlawful . . .
“It shall be unlawful for any public official, guardian, agency, institution or entity to deny any form of aid, assistance or benefits, or to condition the reception in any way of any form of aid, assistance or benefits, or in any other manner to coerce, disqualify or discriminate against any person, otherwise entitled to such aid, assistance or benefits, because that person refuses to obtain, receive, accept, perform, assist, counsel, suggest, recommend, refer or participate in any way in any form of health care services contrary to his or her conscience.”
Section 12 of this Act provides that any person injured by anyone may file a lawsuit seeking treble damages and payment of costs and attorney fees incurred in the filing of such a suit and that the damage remedies are cumulative – meaning not the exclusive form of remedy and can be used in addition to other remedies.