by Paul Dupont
Back in August, Jon Schweppe reported on a bill being signed by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner which would force pro-life medical professionals to provide information about and referrals for abortion services, even if doing so would violate their consciences. Although Rauner, a Republican, had campaigned on having “no social issues agenda” two years ago, he willingly surrendered to the left’s anti-religious freedom agenda, betraying conservatives who had worked hard to get him elected.
It should come as no surprise then that Rauner is now facing a lawsuit from a number of crisis pregnancy centers taking issue with the fact that their conscience rights are now under assault:
Specifically, they argue the law “is a classic example of compelled speech” violating First and 14th Amendment rights, as well as speech rights guaranteed by the Illinois state constitution. They also say SB 1675 violates the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act “because it forces medical facilities and physicians … to violate their religious convictions without serving a compelling government interest in a least restrictive way, and it treats some religious beliefs more favorably than others.”
The complaint details the way in which the state’s new law directly affects the way they attempt fulfill their mission of providing alternatives to abortion — “the reasons they entered the medical profession” — specifically a clause stating: “All health care facilities shall adopt written access to care and information protocols that are designed to ensure that conscience-based objections do not cause impairment of patients’ health and that explain how conscience-based objections will be addressed in a timely manner to facilitate patient health care services.”
Referring patients to, or discussing with them, providers that “may provide surgical abortion, abortion causing drugs and devices, and contraception,” they argued, directly violates “the religious and moral beliefs and conscience” of the facilities and their staff members. They also argue SB 1564 requires them “to tell every patient they treat that abortion is a ‘legal treatment option’ ” and that Rauner and the state “believe that there are several ‘benefits’ to abortion that plaintiffs must describe to every pregnant woman pursuant to SB 1564.”
In response to the lawsuit, Gov. Rauner retreated back to the familiar “no social issues agenda” messaging:
Catherine Kelly, Rauner’s spokeswoman, said in an email that the governor “has never pushed a social agenda and remains committed to government, economic and education reforms that can turnaround Illinois.”
However, Rauner cannot so easily escape a controversy he created — one he could have easily avoided by refusing to sign the bill in the first place. Now, Illinois has become just the latest battleground in the fight to preserve religious freedom, with Rauner caught on the side of the totalitarian left.
It’s a mistake conservatives will likely find difficult to forgive when Rauner comes up for reelection in 2018.
Paul Dupont is the managing editor for ThePulse2016.com.