The Fight for Religious Liberty

The Reformer Martin Luther is quoted as saying “Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.” In our culture right now, the battle is swirling on the issue of religious liberty.  According to a recent report by the Family Research Council, violations of religious freedom in America have increased by over 78 percent in less than three years.  There is no doubt that the culture wishes to squelch the objections of Christians to certain cultural practices, especially abortion.

An Ongoing Legal Battle

In the abortion arena, the controversy primarily affects Christian medical personnel who object to the procedure. In 2012, then Governor Rod Blagojevich mandated that Illinois pharmacists dispense Plan B (the morning after pill), which could be an abortifacient.  After a long legal battle, their right to refuse to stock this pill, claiming a violation of their religious conscience, was affirmed.  However, in the state of Washington, pharmacists were ordered by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017 to dispense this over the counter drug.  Obamacare mandated that health insurance policies provide for contraception and Plan B, resulting in law suits being filed in 2014 by Hobby Lobby, Little Sisters of the Poor and Wheaton College, among others, claiming a violation of their religious liberty.

IL SB1564 Violates Religious Liberty

Two years later, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed IL SB1564 into law, amending the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act. The law preserves the right of an individual physician or medical practitioner NOT to provide an objectionable service, but it demands that the service be provided by someone else in the health care facility or that the patient be given a written referral for where the service can be obtained.  The law also applies to pregnancy help centers, like CareNet of DuPage, where limited medical services such as pregnancy tests and ultrasounds are provided.  At CareNet, medical staff would either be required to provide the service or tell a woman seeking an abortion about the benefits of the procedure and where to procure one.  This is a clear violation of CareNet’s religious liberty and our strong ministry values.  Learn more about CareNet’s mission and values here.

Reason Carries the Day, This Time

Thankfully, the law is being litigated. In July, an injunction was issued prohibiting the state from enforcing the law against any healthcare provider or pregnancy center with a conscientious objection to performing abortions or making abortion referrals.  There is no doubt that Christians are under attack for practicing a faith that conflicts with certain public policies in our country.  We’ve seen that Christian medical personnel are especially at risk.   The question for the church and ministries such as CareNet remains: where will it go from here?

Far from limiting choice, CareNet provides women seeking help with an unplanned pregnancy information and resources to make an informed and empowered choice. Learn more about CareNet’s services here.

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