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Illinois Sues Over 'Provider Conscience' Rule

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Illinois is joining six other states in a lawsuit to turn back a controversial federal rule. The rule would let health care providers decline to offer services they consider immoral – such as abortion.

The Bush administration rule is set to take effect Tuesday – Barack Obama’s inauguration day. Under the Provider Conscience Rule, pharmacists, doctors and others can refuse to offer – or even discuss – procedures related to abortion and some methods of birth control. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says that conflicts with state laws – like one that would protect a woman who has been raped.

MADIGAN: Here in Illinois, she is currently allowed to get emergency contraception. This rule would potentially have that change. So a woman would not even be told that was available.

The Department of Health and Human Services finalized the rule last month. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said at the time it would ensure medical providers wouldn’t be punished for following their consciences.

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