A pro-life pregnancy center won an initial victory on Tuesday against an Illinois law that would have forced it to recommend and refer women for abortions.
Alliance Defending Freedom reports an Illinois circuit court granted Pregnancy Care Center of Rockford a preliminary injunction against the new law, which was scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2017.
“Forcing pro-life doctors and pregnancy care centers in Illinois to operate as referral agents for the abortion industry in violation of their freedom of conscience is unconstitutional, illegal, and unethical,” ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman said in a statement.
“No state has the authority to compel health professionals, against their will and their sacred oath to ‘do no harm,’ to promote abortion. We commend the court’s ruling which is a victory for free speech and the freedom of conscience,” Bowman continued.
The pro-life legal group continued:
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In its nineteen-page order issued Tuesday, the state court noted that Pregnancy Care Center of Rockford raised sufficient questions as to whether the new law is either legal or constitutional as applied to pro-life doctors and pregnancy care centers. For example, the ruling states:
“Why must the State, which licenses and regulates those who provide the objected-to services, rely on the very people who object to the services to be the source of information about them?”
In July, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the pro-abortion law, which amends the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act to require medical professionals in all capacities to refer patients for abortions and counsel them on what the legislation calls the “benefits” of abortion. Those who do not comply could face penalties.
According to ADF, the law requires:
- Pro-life doctors and pregnancy centers must tell pregnant women the names of doctors they believe offer abortions.
- They must tell pregnant women that abortion has unspecified “benefits.”
- They must tell women that abortion is a “treatment option” for pregnancy.
The lawsuit, The Pregnancy Care Center of Rockford v. Rauner, is one of two current challenges to the Illinois law. An initial hearing on the second lawsuit is set for Jan. 10.
Jay Hobbs of Pregnancy Help News reports more about the law:
Originally put forward in the summer of 2015, the legislation would require pro-life medical providers, including 51 Illinois nonprofit pregnancy centers offering free services including ultrasound and STI testing, to take action the bill’s opponents say amounts to participating in an abortion. …
Although the bill requires pro-life healthcare providers and organizations to participate in abortion, it does not include stipulations that healthcare professionals, institutions, or organizations counsel patients on alternatives to abortion such as parenting or placing for adoption.
Similar government-sponsored speech for pregnancy centers has been struck down as unconstitutional in Austin (TX), Baltimore and Montgomery County (MD) and New York City.
Pro-life pregnancy centers are in a similar battle in California. The state’s radical, pro-abortion law backed by NARAL took effect in December 2015, forcing more than 150 pro-life non-profits to choose between advertising free and low-cost abortions or facing heavy fines if they do not comply.
California pregnancy centers are seeking relief through lawsuits, but none has come thus far. Last December, two judges refused to temporarily block the pro-abortion law from taking effect, LifeNews reported.