Sunday, February 5, 2023

Governor Pritzker Signs COVID-19 Amendment to Illinois Right of Conscience Act

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (AP) – Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday signed legislation to amend the Illinois Right of Conscience Health Care Act, which will allow those who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine to potentially face the consequences.

The law was passed in 1978 to protect doctors from punishment or disciplinary action for refusing to have abortions because of religious or moral objections. Democratic Attorney General Kwame Raul asked Pritzker to call for a law clarifying that the law is not meant to cover up a contagious and deadly pandemic.

“Masks, vaccines and testing requirements are life-saving measures that keep our workplaces and communities safe,” Pritzker said, thanking lawmakers for ensuring that the law “is no longer mistakenly used against institutions that place safety and science in the first place ”.

Employees filed lawsuits, arguing that they could not be punished for refusing to fire, as the law provides for exemption from liability on grounds of conscience. Some workers have even announced exemptions from preventive measures such as wearing a face or testing for coronavirus infection.

Democrats stressed that religious exceptions still exist under federal law, although experts dispute the existence of such exceptions under three federal laws cited by Pritzker’s office.

Exceptions are allowed under the Civil Rights Act nationwide. Two key cases are pending in Maine and New York with reference to the religious freedom clause of the US Constitution. Both can go to the US Supreme Court.

“I hope this clears things up as we work to protect public health and suppress this pandemic that has taken so much away from us,” said Senate President Don Harmon, a Democrat from Oak Park.

The law will not come into force until June 1, 2022. Democrats wanted an immediate effective date, but the state constitution requires more votes than they could get in the boardroom. Republican critics argue that this leaves the door open for new lawsuits. Another vote after January 1 could result in the law going into effect because fewer votes would be required.

Follow political writer John O’Connor at

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Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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