Illinois Legislature Approves Patient Rights Measure

Jun 3, 2016

The Illinois legislature has passed legislation amending the state law that decides when doctors can object to caring for a patient based on moral principle.

 The right of conscience law says medical providers who don't want to give reproductive services, such as prescribing birth control or performing an abortion, don't have to. But lawmakers say a doctor must give a patient information on where to get those services.

It came about after Chicago resident Mindy Swank said a Catholic hospital told her that her second child had severe problems and wouldn't live. But, the hospital refused to help her end the pregnancy or give information on where to go for care. The woman reportedly suffered through a dangerous miscarriage.

Lawmakers who support the legislation say patients have the right to be well-informed and to receive the best medical care. 

  Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, says government shouldn't ​have a role in the bedroom, or the doctor's office.

"In the course of medical care, I have the right to make my own decisions about how I will proceed next between me, my husband and my God," she said.

Critics of the legislation say it's wrong to force medical providers who object to abortions to help women get one, by giving them information on providers. ​ Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said the government shouldn't force medical providers to do something they find morally objectionable.

"It's up to the individual to exercise their right of conscience in however they see it," he said.