Pregnancy Centers Sue Illinois Over Law Forcing Them to Promote Abortion

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jul 5, 2017   |   6:35PM   |   Springfield, IL

Pro-life pregnancy resource centers in Illinois are challenging a state law that forces doctors and nurses to promote abortions against their beliefs.

In their lawsuit, the pregnancy centers said the law violates free speech rights for doctors, nurses and pregnancy centers, and discriminates against medical professionals who do not want to promote abortions, according to The Chicago Tribune.

The controversial state law went into effect in January. It amended the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act by requiring that medical professionals tell women about abortion options and refer patients to doctors who perform abortions. It also requires health care workers to describe the so-called “benefits” of abortion to their patients.

Those who refuse to comply could face malpractice lawsuits and discipline from state licensing boards.

The lawsuit on behalf of 1st Way Pregnancy Support Services, Pregnancy Aid South Suburbs and Dr. Ronald Schroeder is one of several filed by pro-life groups in the state. One circuit court judge already ruled in favor of three Rockford pregnancy centers, saying the state cannot enforce the law against them.

The courts recently consolidated the pregnancy centers’ lawsuit with another lawsuit challenging the law, according to the report. The Thomas More Society is representing the pro-life groups in court. Alliance Defending Freedom also is representing pro-life groups in several lawsuits.

In February, Thomas Olp, attorney for the Thomas More Society, commented on the legal challenges: “This law targets pro-life pregnancy centers, which do not refer for abortion, and whose pro-life mission is to advise clients of alternatives to abortion. The new law requires these pro-life centers, and only them, to discuss ‘benefits’ of abortion with their clients and to name abortion providers upon request. This is the essence of forced government speech prohibited by the free speech provisions of our federal and state constitutions.”

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Olp added, “In my view, the law is nefarious and pernicious in its targeting of pro-life physicians and pregnancy resource centers.”

Here’s more from the report:

Providers must offer a “standard of care” that includes informing patients of their medical options, such as abortion or contraception, even if the physician is opposed to it for religious or moral reasons, under the new law, which went into effect Jan. 1. If the patient is seeking a particular treatment, the physician or nurse must at least provide a list of providers.

“A pro-life physician cannot in good conscience do that,” said Thomas Olp, an attorney for the Thomas More Society, a nonprofit religious liberty law firm. Olp said providing a referral to an abortion provider would be considered by pro-life physicians “material involvement in something that’s inherently evil.”

Pro-life pregnancy centers are challenging a similar law in California that forces them to advertise abortions to patients. 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.