Senate Bill 1564

SB 1564 was signed into law on July 29, 2016.

 If you are a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or pregnancy resource center in Illinois, this bill may affect you. Here’s what you need to know about Senate Bill 1564:

SB 1564 will go into effect on January 1, 2017, as an amendment to the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act. The full text of the bill can be found here. Here is an analysis of the amending sections of the bill and what will be required.

Section 6.1: 14-18:

“All health care facilities shall adopt written access to care and information protocols that are designed to ensure that conscience-based objections do not cause impairment of patients’ health…”

“Health care facilities,” according to Section 3 (d): 22-4, are defined as:

“Any public or private hospital, clinic, center, medical school, medical training institution, laboratory or diagnostic facility, physician’s office, infirmary, dispensary, ambulatory surgical treatment center or other institution or location wherein health care services are provided to any person, including physician organizations and associations, networks, joint ventures, and all other combinations of those organizations.”

“Health care,” according to Section 3 (a): 7-15, is defined as:

“Any phase of patient care, including but not limited to, testing; diagnosis; prognosis; ancillary research; instructions; family planning, counselling, referrals, or any other advice in connection with the use or procurement of contraceptives and sterilization or abortion procedures; medication; or surgery or other care or treatment rendered by a physician or physicians, nurses, paraprofessionals or health care facility, intended for the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of persons.”

What does this mean?

All doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and most pregnancy resource centers in Illinois will be required to adopt written access to care and information protocols that abide by the requirements below.


Section 6.1 (1): 24-4:

“The health care facility, physician, or health care personnel shall inform a patient of the patient’s condition, prognosis, legal treatment options, and risks and benefits of the treatment options in a timely manner, consistent with current standards of medical practice or care.”

What does this mean?

Those bound by the law will be required to present abortion as a “legal treatment option” to their patients, and inform them of the “benefits” of the procedure. However, it is unclear which situations abortion must be presented as a legal treatment option. It also does not state that the list of “benefits” has to be government issued, and therefore it is unclear what these “benefits” are and how they need to be presented. The law is unclear if a doctor can legally state in his medical opinion that there are no benefits to abortion.


Section 6.1 (2)-(3): 5-24:

“When a health care facility, physician, or health care personnel is unable to permit, perform, or participate in a health care service that is a diagnostic or treatment option requested by a patient because the health care service is contrary to the conscience of the health care facility, physician, or health care personnel, then the patient shall either be provided the requested health care service by others in the facility or be notified that the health care will not be provided and be referred, transferred, or given information in accordance with paragraph (3).”

“If requested by the patient or the legal representative of the patient, the health care facility, physician, or health care personnel shall: (i) refer the patient to, or (ii) transfer the patient to, or (iii) provide in writing information to the patient about other health care providers who they reasonably believe may offer the health care service the health care facility, physician, or health personnel refuses to permit, perform, or participate in because of a conscience-based objection.”


What does this mean?

If a patient requests an abortion, those bound by the law who refuse to provide or participate in the procedure, will be required to do one of the following:

  • Refer the patient to a facility that performs abortions.
  • Transfer the patient to a facility that performs abortion.
  • Provide the patient with a list of other health care providers who perform abortions.

Nevertheless, the referral process and the specific formatting of this list are unclear. It is unclear if providing a phone book for the patient to locate an abortion clinic fulfills this obligation of the law. Providing a phone book poses an ethical question as to whether that counts as involvement in an abortion or not.


Moving Forward

As seen in the language of the bill, it is not certain what “legal treatment options” and supposed “benefits” of abortion need to be provided to your patients. The referral process and the list of abortion providers that needs to be given is also unclear. The law is poorly written.

With this in mind, we would like to draw your attention to our Inspection Report, published after an in-depth investigation into the conditions of all Illinois abortion clinics. The report documents a severe pattern of disregard for basic medical and sanitation practices among licensed clinics, a lack of inspections, and shocking injury and even death due to abortion procedures. Please feel free to use this as a source of information for you and your patients.

The Alliance Defending Freedom and the Thomas More Society have promised to file lawsuits on behalf of Illinois pro-life pregnancy resource centers. If you would like to be represented in the lawsuit, please contact them via their website at or call us at (312)-422-9300 for additional contact information.

As stated before, the law will not go into affect until January 1, 2017. In the meantime, we will be examining all the options. Please stay connected with us for more information and updates.