COVID and Conscience
The Health Care Right of Conscience Act (HCRCA) protects individuals’ ability to cite a “sincerely held set of moral convictions arising from belief in and relation to God, or which, though not so derived, arises from a place in the life of its possessor parallel to that filled by God among adherents to religious faiths” and prohibits “all forms of discrimination, disqualification, coercion, disability or imposition of liability upon such persons or entities by reason of their refusing to act contrary to their conscience or conscientious convictions in providing, paying for, or refusing to obtain, receive, accept, deliver, pay for, or arrange for the payment of health care services and medical care.”
The primary intent of the HCRCA was to protect doctors and other healthcare providers from having to provide abortion and contraceptive services in violation of their conscience. But the Act also protected patients who might be forced to undergo medical procedures which are in conflict with their beliefs, as highlighted above.
Senate Bill 1169, backed by Governor Pritzker, was a bill that its supporters said did not change the law but instead clarified its meaning by saying that the Act dealt only with reproductive medicine and did not cover the type of medical procedures which they said are needed to combat the COVID pandemic. But if that was the case, why were protections for patients included in the Act? The HCRCA was passed long after the day when Buck v. Bell was no longer the law of the land.
More than 54,000 individuals filed witness slips in opposition to this legislation, but they were ignored, and after a lengthy debate SB 1169 narrowly passed the House by a vote of 64-52-2.
For nineteen months, willing Democrat supermajorities in the legislature have let the Governor run roughshod over the rights of the people of Illinois, even though the “science” they so slavishly claim to follow has shown that circumstances are completely different than they were at the beginning of the pandemic. It’s time for a reboot.
Also, I believe there’s another, more devious motive that drove the passage of S.B. 1169. This bill was embedded right in the middle of a special part of Illinois law that provides a shield against government action which would further erode our fundamental rights. What’s to stop future legislatures from using this bill as a precedent which would allow them to find some other excuse to deny citizens their right of conscience or any of the other fundamental rights that we’re born with and are government’s responsibility to protect rather than destroy? Once you start down this path, it’s always easier to do it the next time.
Last month Illinois Democrats passed legislation to repeal Illinois’ decades-old Parental Notification of Abortion Act (PNA). House Bill 370 passed 62-51-3, without a single Republican vote.
The PNA required a parent or legal guardian to be notified before a minor child underwent an abortion procedure. The law did not require parental consent, only notification. Furthermore, the Act provided safe-harbor exceptions to parental notification, as well as a judicial bypass proceeding.
State Representative Chris Bos served as the Director of Development for Reclaim13, a non-profit that works to free children from sexual exploitation by focusing on prevention programs for adolescents and adults, and healing programs for children and young adult victims of human trafficking. The organization also runs the only safe house for minors who have been rescued from sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking. He spoke movingly during debate, and you can watch his floor comments here. Here is part of his comments:
“As a father of two daughters, I am deeply concerned about the repeal of Illinois’ parental notification law. Worse though, as someone who has spent years in the fight against sex trafficking, I am heartbroken for what this repeal means for victims. This is not hyperbole; I have looked into the eyes a minor girl who was coerced into the sex trade and seen a pain I cannot know. She was saved from her torment because her parents were notified when her abuser took her for an abortion to cover up the crime. And sadly, there are many more like her, but thankfully, many of them have begun the process of healing because parental notification was in place.
“It is the responsibility of the legislature to pass laws that protect our most vulnerable children, not put them at greater risk. Unfortunately, the repeal of parental notification means those who victimize and abuse children will now have another tool to continue the cycle of violence, exploitation and abuse of children for their own personal and selfish gains.”
Without parental consent, children under the age of 18 cannot:
- Get a tattoo
- Go on a school field trip
- Participate in school sports
- Take Tylenol at the school nurse’s office for a headache
- Get a driver’s license
This bill not only stripped parents of the right to be informed about serious medical decisions their children are making, it also the increased the danger to children who are being sexually abused, exploited, or trafficked.
ISBE Responds to JCAR Criticism of Unequal Treatment of Public and Private Schools
In August, 57 schools (46 public and 11 private) were cited by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) for their failure to abide by the mask mandate imposed upon schools by the Pritzker administration and threatened with non-recognition status under the School Code. While the public schools were given due process rights to contest the findings and placed on probation, the 11 private schools were immediately “de-recognized” without the same due process rights granted to the public schools. This “de-recognition” has serious consequences, especially for those private schools whose students are receiving scholarships provided under the “Invest in Kids” Act.
In response to public pressure and pointed questions from the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), of which I’m a member, ISBE has agreed to revise its rules to provide the same due process rights to private schools as are available to public schools, and has placed those private schools deemed not to be in compliance on probation, thus restoring their recognition.
This spring we saw a partisan map-making process play out in a backroom behind a locked door using inaccurate and incomplete data that produced flawed maps drawn by politicians. As we warned, these maps, which Governor Pritzker promised during his campaign he would not sign, were signed by him in spite of that promise.
The Federal court charged with deciding the constitutionality of the legislative maps ruled in September that there were serious issues involved with this map and contained both population and racial inequities. The judicial panel is set to take up the validity of the latest state legislative maps in early December.
It should come as no surprise that the Democrats rammed a revised Congressional district map drawn in a similar fashion as they did the state maps during veto session. I voted against this map, which ended up passing after midnight in Springfield.
UI Agreed Bill Process
In April, I was appointed to be a representative of the House Republican caucus to what’s called the “Agreed Bill Process” which is a device used by labor and the business community during negotiations over the deficit in the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund by which business and labor agree to not propose legislation dealing with tax increases or benefit cuts to the unemployment system until both sides have fully negotiated a settlement of the issue.
On May 17, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released guidance specifying that states could use some of what they received in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to bring their Unemployment Trust Funds to pre-pandemic levels, and many states did just that. Of the $8 billion of ARPA funds the state received, the Governor committed a mere $100 million, and only $3.6 billion is now left, which won’t pay off the $4.4 billion we owe to the Federal government on the state’s trust fund deficit. Furthermore, interest began to accrue on the deficit on September 1, and as of this writing, the state owes almost $11 million in interest, with that amount growing by nearly $300,000 per day. This is your money, folks.
Just before veto session business and labor agreed to a 6-month extension to certain “speed bumps”, which are measures to maintain the integrity of the agreed-bill process by imposing pains and penalties on business and labor to keep them at the negotiating table. By the end of that 6-month extension, we’ll have added an additional $73 million in interest on the debt, to be paid out of General Revenue. The extension was passed during veto session as part of H.B. 594. I was one of the two “No” votes on that bill.
The Governor is slow-walking the state’s obligation to repay its debt to the Federal government with the hope that the Feds will turn around and forgive the debt without using what ARPA funds we have left to do so. Also, he’s not telling us what he did with the money he’s spent. Did he use ARPA money to prop up programs funded by General Revenue that will then become part of the next budget year’s baseline? We won’t know until he presents his budget in February.
If the remaining ARPA money is used to pay down the deficit, there’s an $800 million hit coming to the people of Illinois. Otherwise, the people and businesses of this state will be on the hook for the whole $4.4 billion, plus interest. Merry Christmas.
Just think, if the Governor’s so-called “Fair Tax” had passed, the $3-some-odd billion of additional revenue the tax was supposed to have raised in the first year wouldn’t have been enough to pay off the deficit, either. J.B. Pritzker and his administration just continue to think that money grows on trees instead of coming out of the pockets of people with jobs. If he keeps this up, there will be fewer of them left in Illinois with pockets to pick.
Since I would have no say in the actual negotiations and my continued involvement with the process would imply my agreement with the outcome, I’ve sent a letter to the House Republican leader requesting my removal from the Agreed Bill Process.
Community Events in October:
I was happy to once again be a sponsor of the Crosstown Challenge supporting the Woodstock North Boosters and Woodstock Blue Streak Backers clubs!
At DCFS working group meeting. Moving toward legislative recommendations for ongoing problems in the child welfare system.
We had a very successful Prescription Drug Drop off event at the Marengo Police station!
I had a wonderful time being Principal for the Day at McHenry High School West. I was extremely impressed with the school community and especially the new Center for Science, Technology, and Industry. Thank you for having me over to see everyone!
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday season, I want to remind folks about the importance of giving back to the community in any way you can. This pandemic has proved hard on us all, so if you are able, please consider donating or supporting our many local food pantries in the 63rd district this year. A recent report has shown the worker shortage and domestic supply chain disruptions may increase turkey purchases by 10-15% over last year. There’s a shortage of turkeys this year, so donated 30 Butterball gift certificates to the Friends Food Pantry in Wonder Lake. Please contact my office if you have any questions or are looking for suggestions on ways to help throughout McHenry County. I would be happy to assist you. Thank you.
For local events across McHenry County visit: https://www.visitmchenrycounty.com/Blog/Home