Illinois Democratic governor signs law allowing workers who refuse vaccine to face potential repercussions

Illinois’ Democratic governor on Monday updated a preexisting state law from the 1970s to allow penalties for workers who don’t abide by COVID-19-related mandates on vaccines, masks and testing. 

"Masks, vaccines, and testing requirements are life-saving measures that keep our workplaces and communities safe," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement Monday. "Keeping workplaces safe is a high priority, and I applaud the General Assembly for ensuring that the Health Care Right of Conscience Act is no longer wrongly used against institutions who are putting safety and science first."

Enacted in 1978, the Health Care Right of Conscience Act was originally intended to allow medical professionals to refuse to receive or participate in health care services contrary to their personal beliefs, including religious or moral objections to specific services, such as abortion.

Democratic Attorney General Kwame Raoul had asked Pritzker to clarify that the legislation does not do anything to restrict workplaces' measures intended to prevent the spread of deadly, communicable diseases like COVID-19. In signing SB 1169 into law, the governor said the "amendment will ensure the long tradition of vaccine requirements by employers can continue with regard to the COVID-19 vaccine." 

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