Way back in 2008 I highlighted a then-new law in Victoria, Australia, requiring a doctor to refer patients for abortions if the doctor wouldn't perform the abortion himself. I said that this was a case in which civil disobedience would be justified.
Illinois has recently passed a law (text here), which has been signed by the Republican (!) governor, that is much like Victoria's law. Ironically, the new law is an amendment to a conscience protection act previously passed in Illinois. The current law brazenly guts the original conscience protection act and replaces it with conscience coercion.
Under the new law (yes, I've read it), doctors, crisis pregnancy centers, and pharmacies must do the following:
1) They must inform patients of risks and benefits of all legal procedures relevant to their situation. This would mean that doctors opposed to abortion would have to talk about the alleged benefits of abortion.
2) If they have a conscientious objection to a treatment option the patient wants, they must, upon patient request, either refer the patient, transfer the patient, or provide written information to the patient about other providers whom they "reasonably believe may offer" the service in question. The wording of the legislation isn't clear as to whether the patient gets to choose which of these options the health care provider must follow (refer, transfer, or provide written information).
3) Regardless of which option is selected, the health care provider with the conscientious objection must provide copies of relevant medical records to the other provider (the one who is expected to perform the abortion or other service) "without undue delay." As I've pointed out before, this is a way in which requiring medical transfer isn't the equivalent (at all) of handing a patient the yellow pages or suggesting that he do a Google search. It's a matter of treating the abortionist (say) as a medical colleague.
So this bill requires cooperation of some sort with abortion on the part of conscientious objectors. They are to speak about abortion (or contraception, for that matter) to the patient as though it's just another treatment option, speak of its "benefits," and assist the patient in finding someone who will provide the service.
As the Family Research Council points out, this Illinois law is in direct violation of the Weldon amendment, a bit of federal law that says that states that receive federal funding can't discriminate against doctors for their failure to refer patients for abortions.
But the Weldon Amendment depends upon the federal government for enforcement, and the Obama administration isn't going to do any such thing. Always remember that it takes effort on the part of the government to enforce good laws. The administration must be motivated to do so, and sheer neglect is an effective form of de facto nullification. The Weldon Amendment contains no private cause of action, so doctors and pregnancy centers that are punished or threatened with punishment by the State of Illinois have no effective recourse even though Illinois will be violating the terms of its receipt of federal funding.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a Conscience Protection Act in July that would have created a private cause of action in such cases. It looks like (as far as I can tell) the Senate has not passed it yet, and of course Obama would veto it if passed.
While we will get the same, tired nonsense from the lefties about how doctors should just get out of the profession if they "refuse to do their job," sane people know better. In fact, even non-Christian sane people know that referring for an abortion isn't some sort of deep, intrinsic part of the "job" of being a doctor. And the fact that an abortion is legal makes not one whit of difference.
It would be bad for the world as a whole if all pro-life doctors left the profession. This law applies to crisis pregnancy centers, too, if they "provide medical care." Pro-life pregnancy centers provide an important service and must not close their doors.
A lawsuit has been filed by (who else?) the ADF. They are filing in state court under provisions of the Illinois State Constitution.
Meanwhile, conscientious doctors and crisis pregnancy counselors should just go on quietly doing their job and not turning patients toward the destructive "choice" of abortion.