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Fri Apr 17, 2015, 08:24 PM


Bill would make Catholic hospitals tell patients about options elsewhere

April 17, 2015 6:18 pm
By Manya Brachear Pashman
Chicago Tribune

A measure before Illinois lawmakers would require Roman Catholic hospitals to tell patients they can go elsewhere for birth control, certain medical procedures and other health care choices that violate church teachings.

The proposal would amend the state's Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which generally allows workers and institutions to deny services for religious and ethical reasons. And while it would apply to all hospitals in Illinois, it's particularly relevant for Catholic hospitals, which handle more than 1 in 4 admissions statewide.

"You have to protect the right of the health care provider to provide care that is consistent with their faith," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston. "And simultaneously, you have to protect the patient's right to have information as well as access to care. I think this bill does both."

The proposal is the latest attempt to balance the rights of patients with those of health care workers. Enacted in 1977, the law originally was intended to bar employers from discriminating against employees who won't perform services that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs. Experts say such objections can apply to a wide range of services beyond birth control, including end-of-life care and gender transition services for transgender patients.


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