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Kankakee County Board issues opposition to Health Care Right of Conscience Act amendment

A planned amendment would remove citing moral beliefs as a reason for refusing vaccines in an effort to comply with workplace COVID-19 vaccine requirements. 

KANKAKEE – The Kankakee County Board Executive Committee unanimously voted Tuesday in opposition to an amendment of The Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

“The amendment proposed in Senate Bill 1169 is massive in government overreach and removes all control in an individual’s decision for his or her own healthcare. It is both alarming and disturbing that such a mandate is proposed, especially since this legislature has abdicated its responsibilities regarding the Pandemic for two years and allowed the Governor to rule by executive order instead of operating as a co-equal branch of government.” wrote Kankakee County Board Chairman Andrew Wheeler in a letter to State Senators and Representatives early Wednesday afternoon.

State lawmakers are currently taking up legislation that would amend the Act, removing citing moral beliefs as a reason for refusing vaccines in an effort to comply with workplace COVID-19 vaccine requirements. 

The Act has been in place since 1998.

Earlier this week, Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement the act was “never intended to allow people to avoid public health guidance and jeopardize workplace safety during a global pandemic.” New language intended to go in any amendment would clarify the right of conscience does not apply to COVID-19 requirements. 

Wheeler added in Wednesday’s letter “Most of the Kankakee County Board is fully vaccinated” and encourages the community to do so under their own educational efforts.

“If an individual chooses to protect himself or herself by getting a Covid-19 vaccination, our county has the programs to make that an easy process. However, this county board takes a strong bi-partisan stance in the decision should be that of the individual, and not a government mandate that forces a decision between one’s livelihood and their personal morals and beliefs.” Wheeler wrote.

You can read the full letter below:

October 27, 2021

On October 26th, 2021, the Kankakee County Board Executive Committee unanimously voted to protect the rights of the people and oppose any amendment to The Health Care Right of Conscience Act. It was the original intent of this legislation to protect the rights of individuals to make their own decisions regarding their personal health care and these rights still exist during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With that said, the Kankakee County Board has taken great measures to educate, protect and serve the community throughout the pandemic. Most of the Kankakee County Board is fully vaccinated and encourages the community to do the same through education, easily accessible vaccination clinics and continued outreach to minority communities. If an individual chooses to protect himself or herself by getting a Covid-19 vaccination, our county has the programs to make that an easy process. However, this county board takes a strong bi-partisan stance in the decision should be that of the individual, and not a government mandate that forces a decision between one’s livelihood and their personal morals and beliefs. 

The amendment proposed in Senate Bill 1169 is massive in government overreach and removes all control in an individual’s decision for his or her own healthcare. It is both alarming and disturbing that such a mandate is proposed, especially since this legislature has abdicated its responsibilities regarding the Pandemic for two years and allowed the Governor to rule by executive order instead of operating as a co-equal branch of government.  

The Kankakee County Board requests your support in opposing the amendments to Public Act 90-246 and allow the people of Illinois to continue exercising their constitutional rights by choosing the best healthcare for themselves and their families. That is not the job of government. It never has been, nor will it ever be in our Constitutional Republic.

Andrew H. Wheeler

Kankakee County Board Chairman        

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