Pritzker wants to end health conscience law’s use to avoid COVID-19 vax

Pritzker wants to end health conscience law’s use to avoid COVID-19 vax

As Illinois politicians continue trying to force vaccinations on more residents, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is trying to end use of a state law designed to stop people from being forced into health care decisions.

Illinois’ Health Care Right of Conscience Act grants Illinoisans the right to refuse to participate in health care that is against their convictions, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants to change the law now that public workers are using it as a basis to challenge forced COVID-19 vaccinations.

There’s no legislation in the works yet, but it’s clear Pritzker wants to stymie any lawsuits citing the act. Six Naperville firefighters trying to fight the vaccine mandate in court citing the law.

“The Health Care Right of Conscience Act was never intended to allow people to avoid public health guidance during a global pandemic. The administration supports efforts to clarify the law, so it cannot be misinterpreted by fringe elements,” said Emily Bittner, Pritzker’s deputy chief of staff.

“Testing” is specifically included in the law’s definition of health care. Groups such as the Fraternal Order of Police are invoking the law as legal defense against vaccination and regular testing.

“We’re not opposed to the vaccine itself. We are opposed to the forced mandated vaccinations. But not at all opposed to the vaccine. We just feel it’s a matter of choice,” state FOP President Chris Southwood said.

Over 70% of Illinoisans have received at least one vaccine dose.

Chicago Police are fighting Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s mandate that they report their vaccination status by Oct. 15 or face days off without pay. The union is encouraging members to ignore the mandate, which led Pritzker to offer the Illinois National Guard to help keep the peace if masses of officers are suddenly off work.

Lightfoot backed off a demand that all city employees receive at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 15, now saying workers can test twice a week on their own time and at their own expense for the rest of 2021. They would then need to be vaccinated.

The Chicago Police union chief said the health care conscience law is designed to protect exactly those who are now seeking its protection from forced vaccination.

“I mean, it literally says if you have a firmly held religious belief, a firmly held conscientious belief, against a medical procedure, you are covered by that statute. Period,” said Chicago FOP president John Catanzara.

The most recent data showed one in four Chicago police officers had not been vaccinated.

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