Bill would remove ‘conscience’ as basis for refusing vaccine

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces a new round of COVID-19-related emergency housing assistance, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, at Abundant Faith Christian Center in Springfield, Ill.. Pritzker says he supports changing the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act to allow employers and others to bar people who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Pritzker says the act, which prevents forced medical treatment on those who have conscientious objections, “was never intended to cover a pandemic where we’re trying to keep people alive.” (AP Photo/John O’Connor)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois law has for more than four decades protected those who oppose providing or receiving certain medical treatment because of their religious beliefs.

Now Democrats want an exception to allow repercussions against those who refuse vaccinations in the battle against COVID-19.

The Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act has become a basis for lawsuits challenging employers who enforce rules requiring testing for or inoculation against the coronavirus.

Rep. Robyn Gabel, an Evanston Democrat, says the COVID-19 carve-out is justified because the virus is highly contagious. Republicans say it’s a first step toward requiring other medical treatments.

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