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Sunday Letters: Bill would aid patients, health care providers

As a physician with a master’s degree in public health and child health policy, I was troubled by

a recent column in these pages by Colleen Malloy and an official from Illinois Right to Life (July 21) suggesting that the religious interests of doctors, nurses and other health care providers should take priority over the ability of patients to get information about their medical conditions. The article badly misrepresents Senate Bill 1564, now on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk for approval.

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The changes contained in this compromise legislation are needed to protect patients and health care providers. Illinois, unlike the vast majority of other states, currently allows doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers to refuse to give a patient information that conflicts with the provider’s religious beliefs. But it is contrary to what we learn in medical school, and is against our ethical obligations to deny patients the information they need in order to understand their medical condition, consider all treatment options that are the standard of care, and obtain care. The bill will not make a health care provider participate in care that is against the provider’s religious beliefs, they need only to ensure that the patient is able to get the information they need to make an informed decision.

While there has been an attempt to make it seem that this bill is about abortion, the bill incorporates ethical principles that apply in all areas of medicine. If a patient goes to an orthopedic specialist because they are having knee pain, they would expect to hear about all appropriate options – surgical and non-surgical. It simply would not be acceptable for the doctor to decide that their patient only needs to hear about one option and to choose for them.

I have seen patients have to wait for necessary medical care because professionals in a religiously affiliated hospital struggled with whether providing the needed care conflicted with the hospital’s religious directives. I have also seen patients who were not told about all of their treatment options because of a hospital’s religious directives. This bill improves patient access to essential medical information and will reduce confusion and delay in accessing care.

In short, it will give patients the comfort of knowing that they are receiving complete information, and that the patient can then make health care decisions that are in line with their own religious tradition, regardless of the religious affiliation of the physician, nurse or hospital.

Maura Quinlan, obstetrician gynecologist,

Northwestern Memorial Hospital

End gerrymandering nationwide

Mark Brown’s Thursday column was naïve and disingenuous. Why should Illinois Democrats disadvantage themselves when all the Republican-controlled states around them are taking full advantage of gerrymandering? The only way to reform this is to do it nationwide, otherwise Illinois Democrats will be surrendering more seats to the radical Republicans. It is time that the federal courts step in with strict guidelines for redistricting … anything else is a fool’s errand.

Silvio Anichini, Edgewater

It’s up to Supreme Court

Once again redistricting reform finds itself in the hands of the Supreme Court.

Once again they must decide if Illinois is to be forever ruled by tyrants; or will the Land of Lincoln rightfully embrace a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Robert Hennessy, Mokena

We need reverence for life

As we enter the Democratic Convention it’s laudable for them to be a party that supports human rights, women’s rights. minority rights, religious rights, gay rights, environmentalism, nature conservation and wildlife and endangered species preservation. Conversely, the Democrats are increasingly supportive of the rights of guilty, violent criminals while wholeheartedly supporting the killing of innocent human fetuses who never had a chance to experience life. We need a Democratic or Republican Presidential candidate who has reverence for all life.

Brien Comerford, Glenview