Illinois is once again at the center of a legal battle that is seen by many to be emblematic of some of the key divides between the liberal and conservative cultures throughout the country. A recently passed law made changes to long-standing statutes, compelling medical personnel who do not wish to perform a medical procedure because of personal reasons to refer a patient to a care provider who would perform the procedure. Now, a Winnebago County Circuit judge has sent down a preliminary injunction that would allow several clinics throughout the state to ignore the new law and refuse to refer patients or inform them of their medical options for controversial care such as abortion.
The issue is a complex one that is not easily settled, because at its heart are several very different rights on the part of each party. Those who oppose the law frame it as an attack on their freedom of speech, claiming that their "right to be free from government compelled speech is violated," while patients believe that they have the right to the best medical care regardless of the provider — in some cases facing dangerous or fatal outcomes because certain medical options are not presented to them.
For the time being, the new law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, and the state will have the authority to enforce compliance the new requirements on care providers who are not named in the suit.
For patients throughout the state, the law remains a crucial win. There are many instances in which the health of a patient may be compromised because of a care provider's conscience, which much of the public considers to be antithetical to the spirit of practicing medicine altogether.
If you have been the victim of unfair medical practices, or have suffered harm because a care provider did not inform you fully of your options, do not hesitate to speak up about your experience. An experienced attorney can help you use the court to fight for your own fair treatment, as well as the fair treatment of countless others.
Source: Governing.com, "Pregnancy Centers Win Early Victory Against Illinois Abortion Law," Lisa Schencker, Dec. 23, 2016