Statewide police union warns of political consequences if lawmakers attempt changes to Health Care Right of Conscience Act

(The Center Square) – Chicago police face possible separation from the force for not complying with Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, but a statewide union said the mayor is not negotiating in good faith.

A judge told the Chicago police union president not to speak publicly amid pending litigation. However, Illinois Fraternal Order of Police President Chris Southwood is free to speak. He told WMAY what’s happening in Chicago is concerning.

“They clearly feel that the mayor is not bargaining in good faith when it comes to implementing the vaccine mandate,” Southwood said.

Elsewhere throughout the state, local officials seem to be negotiating mandates in good faith with local law enforcement unions, Southwood said. If not, he said there’s always the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

“It clearly states that it’s unlawful to discriminate because of a person’s conscientious refusal to receive health care service contrary to his or her conscience,” he said. “We clearly feel we can fall back on that when we need to when it comes to these vaccine mandates and how they are implemented.”

Southwood said there’s been no consideration in the vaccine mandate debate about natural immunity.

“And a lot of our members have already been exposed to COVID,” Southwood said. “A lot of our members have already had COVID. What about the natural immunities that they have now that protects them even in some studies showing better than the vaccine does and they don’t have to deal with the adverse effects of the vaccine.”

The FOP he said will be lobbying against any possible changes to the Health Care Right of Conscience Act, a decades-old law he says gives broad protections to people refusing medical treatments that go against their beliefs.

“We’ll let General Assembly members know right up front that if you vote for changes to this act, we’re going to make sure your constituents are aware that you voted for changes to that act,” he said.

Lawmakers return to Springfield on Tuesday. It’s unclear if they’ll take up changes to the HCRCA, something the governor’s office has suggested.

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