Under the rules implemented by the university, students who had not submitted their vaccine card or been granted an exception by Friday, Aug. 6, would not be allowed to enroll in classes or access the campus. Faculty and staff who are not vaccinated by Sept. 21, or submit an exemption, could face disciplinary action, including termination, the university states.
Loyola initially denied written requests by the 11 students, who stated that the available vaccines contained fetal tissue from abortions and their religious beliefs do not condone abortion, according to a press release by their attorneys, Liberty Counsel.
“Loyola denied each of these students’ religious exemption requests with curt and ambiguous denials even though their statements were more than sufficient under applicable law and under Loyola’s nondiscrimination policy,” the release said.
Illinois has a Health Care Right of Conscience Act that provides strong protection to all residents against discrimination based on healthcare choices.
The university backtracked on its decision after receiving a letter from attorneys on Wednesday threatening a lawsuit. After the press release was distributed, 10 more students contacted Liberty because they received exemption denials. The cases are under review.
A Loyola spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
“Loyola University needs to drop its unlawful mandate immediately,” said Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver in a statement. “Forcing any person to receive one of these COVID injections authorized for emergency use by the FDA is a violation of both state and federal law.”
Students at a namesake school, Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, did not have the same outcome when their request for a religious exemption was denied, according to Reuters. The students filed a lawsuit, calling the vaccine protocol “campus-wide apartheid” because they are ostracized in separate dorms with a host of regulations.
Vaccine requirements are quickly becoming normalized for large corporations, schools, and government agencies. Recently, President Joe Biden announced a federal employee mandate that required vaccinations or a strict testing schedule.
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Original Author: Tori Richards
Original Location: Loyola University students win battle over COVID-19 vaccine