Dear Council Members:
An extremely serious situation has occurred that affects us as Catholic Nurses in the State of Illinois. Effective Jan. 1, 2017, SB 1564 was passed that makes a disturbing amendment to the existing Health Care Right of Conscience Act. The law now requires Catholic nurses and all health care workers to make referrals for abortion, abortifacients, in vitro fertilization, sterilization and other treatments that take and devalue the life and dignity of a human being. Unbelievably, the health care worker must also list the benefits of these immoral actions when giving the referral.
For a Catholic health care worker to give a referral is to give an implicit consent, making the health care worker a complicit collaborator to a grave sin.
The original Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act was once considered the gold standard of state-level First Amendment protective laws. This act allowed Catholic Hospitals, institutions and other medical providers and personnel to practice their right of conscientious objection to procedures and medications that it found to be morally objectionable. It also protected the institution and health care worker from giving referrals. Now this has changed. The amendment to the act demands we give referrals to a facility or provider that would perform an abortion or other immoral “treatment” and list to the patient the benefits of the abortion or other procedures.
At our Council meeting on February 18, 2017 the board discussed this tragic amendment. We reviewed our Council’s Mission and Vision Statement in which we are called to be the “collective voice of the Catholic nurses and student nurses related to promoting moral principles and advocating for human dignity and the value of life.” The Charter for Health Care Workers from the Pontifical Council calls us “Ministers of Life”. From Chapter I:
- The work of health care persons is a very valuable service to life. It expresses a profoundly human and Christian commitment, undertaken and carried out not only as a technical activity but also as one of dedication to and love of neighbor. It is “a form of Christian witness.” “Their profession calls for them to be guardians and servants of human life” (Evangelium Vitae 89).
As guardians of this mission, we have agreed to have Peter Breen, Special Counsel for the Thomas More Society law firm to represent Our Council as a group in a complaint letter to US Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights detailing how the Illinois law violates the federal legislation that protects our right of conscience.
If you are working or volunteering in a position where you have been, or may be directly affected by this law, please let me know immediately. You are able to choose to be individually added to the complaint letter.
For any questions or concerns, please contact me at 630-668-3369.
Yours in Christ,