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Governor Pritzker Signs Amendment to the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act

On November 8, 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 1169 into law. The Bill is an amendment to the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act (“HCRCA”), 745 ILCS 70/1 et seq., a law which protects individuals and entities from discrimination or certain other adverse actions based on their refusal to act contrary to their conscience in the health care arena. It has been said that the original intent of the HCRCA was to allow health care providers to refuse to provide contraceptives or abortion services if doing so would violate their conscience.

In recent months, since the issuance of various COVID-19 vaccine mandates, certain groups have asserted the HCRCA as a legal basis for refusing vaccination, arguing that the HCRCA shields them from mandatory vaccination if they have a moral objection to the vaccine. The Illinois General Assembly has responded to those arguments with the passage of Senate Bill 1169, which seeks to clarify the intent of the General Assembly that the HCRCA does not apply to the refusal of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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