One of the most important additions to our country’s Constitution is the First Amendment. It makes sure people are not forced to do things that violate their religious convictions. While a vast number of Republicans understand this, some, unfortunately, do not.
For example, last year, Illinois Governor, Bruce Rauner (R), betrayed his own party and trampled on the religious liberty of others by signing a piece of legislation forcing all doctors to inform their patients about abortions. Outraged, Dr. Robert Lawler, a pro-life obstetrician, decided to file a lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality. Earlier this week, he spoke with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and provided him with more details about the case.
Carlson began the interview by asking Lawler if the new law, known as SB 1564, seriously requires doctors to tell others how to kill their unborn children even if doing so is against their religion. “That’s correct, Tucker,” he responded. “We’re supposed to counsel the patient on the purported benefits of abortion, which, of course, there are none, and then if asked to provide a referral for an abortion, and also provide a list of nearby abortion facilities, where the vulnerable woman can procure the abortion,” he explained, noting, “[it’s] a clear violation of our conscience rights.”
Lawler claimed that as an obstetrician, the life of the unborn child is just as important to him as the life of the mother. Specifically, he said, “I’m an obstetrician, so by the very nature I have two patients. I have a mother and a baby. And it’s ludicrous to think that I could refer my patients off, one to be executed and the other to be mortally wounded for the rest of her life with the sense of regret.”
He added, “I cannot and will not comply with this law that is a complete affront to my conscience beliefs, my firmly held religious beliefs, that life is sacred. I became a physician to help people, not to harm them.”
Carlson asked what would happen if he decided to disobey. “Well there can be sanctions and penalties and I suppose eventually the removal of your medical license. I guess that’s where this is heading isn’t it, down the road,” replied Lawler, adding, “and that’s the concern and that’s why we’re filing suit against Governor Rauner and the state of Illinois with the fine attorneys at the Thomas More Society to really stop this egregious attempt, an end-around if you will, of the existence conscience laws that exist on the federal and the state books.”
Lawler’s partnership with the Thomas More Society is unsurprising. Shortly after SB 1564 was signed, Tom Brejcha, the President & Chief Counsel of the organization, released a statement critical of the new legislation. “This controversial new law utterly destroys what had been strong protections for health care workers’ rights of conscience here in Illinois,” he argued.
“It is squarely in the teeth of an entire cluster of federal laws that prohibit states from requiring health care workers to participate in or refer for abortions. SB 1564 is thus both illegal and unconstitutional, and its signing will trigger years of contentious, difficult, and expensive litigation,” he continued, noting, “it will force Illinois’ people of faith and other Illinois pro-lifers to file lawsuits to protect and enforce their fundamental rights to freely exercise and abide by the tenets of their religious faith while continuing to practice their profession, serving the health needs of their fellow citizens and supporting their families.”
Emily Zender, the executive director of Illinois Right to Life, also spoke out against the new law. Zender, who was “extremely disappointed in Gov. Rauner for siding with pro-abortion Democrats,” claimed, “this radical bill is a direct assault on the consciences of medical professionals and the missions of the community supported pregnancy help centers.”
Republicans need to work together to vote Gov. Rauner out of office. People should not be forced to do things that violate their religious beliefs. Doing so is a clear violation of the First Amendment.