Illinois Veto Session 2021 Roundup
Updates on Medical Forensic Exams, Religious Exemptions for COVID Safety, and Abortion Access in Illinois
Last week, the Illinois General Assembly wrapped up a very busy Veto Session where a number of key legislative measures were passed, including SB 336. This legislation allows federally qualified health centers like Howard Brown to continue to provide medical forensic exams (MFEs) for survivors of sexual assault. Since In Power began offering MFEs earlier this year, we’ve seen how this has expanded access to sexual assault services for LGBTQ people and other marginalized populations.
SB 336 is a follow-up to the Black Legislative Caucus’s healthcare pillar, and it creates a Board to oversee the curriculum, training, certification, and reimbursement of Community Health Workers. The bill also includes requirements for healthcare workers to complete training on implicit bias. This legislation is essential for advancing health equity and racial justice in Illinois, and we are thankful to the lead sponsors Representative Lilly and Senator Hunter, the Black Legislative Caucus, and Representative Cassidy and Majority Leader Harris for their leadership and advocacy for SB 336.
Other important health legislation that passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly during the 2021 Veto Session include:
- Amendment to the Health Care Right of Conscience Act: This bill will amend the Health Care Right of Conscience Act (HCRCA) to clarify the original intent of the law. The HCRCA was initially passed to protect providers from being forced to perform a healthcare service that they have a religious or moral objection to. Recently, the HCRCA has been used in litigation as justification for healthcare workers and others to not comply with employer-mandated COVID-19 mitigation strategies such as weekly testing or vaccination. The new bill passed during Veto Session clarifies that it is not against the law for employers to enforce measures to mitigate COVID-19 transmission and protect our communities during the global pandemic.
- The Youth Health and Safety Act: This bill, largely passed on partisan lines, will remove parental notification requirements for minors to access abortion services. This bill also creates a task force to analyze state laws that impact youth’s sexual health and ability to access comprehensive reproductive health services.