Illinois Democrats Pass Bill to Close Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   May 11, 2023   |   3:26PM   |   Springfield, Illinois

A pro-abortion bill on its way to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk could shut down pro-life pregnancy centers across the state and deny mothers and babies critical, life-saving services.

Illinois House lawmakers gave final approval to the Deceptive Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers Act (Senate Bill 1909) in a 72-40 vote on Wednesday. The bill now heads to the governor, a pro-abortion Democrat who is expected to sign it.

“This bill singles out pro-life pregnancy resource centers, placing a target on their backs and violating their right to free speech,” Mary Kate Zander, executive director of Illinois Right to Life, responded Thursday. “Please continue to pray for our legislators, who remain obstinate in their anti-life stance and refuse to acknowledge their role in tens of thousands of deaths annually.”

Zander said the bill clearly violates pro-lifers’ free speech and likely will face a legal challenge if it becomes law.

Pro-abortion lawmakers claim the bill will help stop “deceptive practices” at pregnancy resource centers, but pro-life advocates say the legislation really would be used to close charities that help moms and save unborn babies from the abortion industry’s billion-dollar killing practice.

During the House debate Wednesday, pro-life lawmakers pointed out that the attorney general’s office has not received a single complaint about a pregnancy resource center in at least 10 years.

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State Rep. Jed Davis, R-Yorkville, raised other concerns about the bill during a recent interview with 1430 WCMY.

Davis said the legislation attacks pro-life pregnancy centers for not offering “comprehensive” services just because they do not abort unborn babies, but most abortion facilities don’t provide “comprehensive” health care either. Few abortion facilities provide prenatal care and other services for mothers who choose life for their babies.

“The Democrat side of the aisle is screaming from the rooftop that … the state of Illinois is protecting the right for a woman to choose,” he told WCMY. “Women know they have that right here in Illinois, so it’s not like this is a secret. So then to label these centers to say you’re not saying you have that right is really talking out of both sides of your mouth when that is a loud and clear message.”

Earlier this month, state Sen. Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, one of the lead sponsors of the bill, said lawmakers want to protect women against “deceptive, fraudulent and misleading practices” as they make “autonomous” decisions about their “reproductive health.”

In a statement, Villanueva claimed pregnancy centers make “false claims that abortion causes cancer.” However, she did not provide any evidence to support her claim. What pregnancy centers often inform women of are studies that show an increased risk of breast cancer in connection to abortion. This is evidenced-based information, not deception.

But if pro-abortion officials consider it “deception,” pregnancy centers could be slammed with crippling fines of up to $50,000. Most pregnancy centers are small, donor-supported nonprofits that operate on small budgets, and fines that large could force them to close.

The bill gives the state attorney general authority to determine what “appears” to be “deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, or misrepresentation, or the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact.”

Jonathan Alban of the Illinois Family Institute said the bill defines “deceptive” “only by the crisis pregnancy center’s unwillingness to perform abortions.”

“These bills stand to be incredibly damaging to the pro-life movement in Illinois and would likely result in the closure of many crisis pregnancy centers,” Alban said. “And of course, if these bills pass, it won’t stop at the crisis pregnancy centers—the next bill will prevent churches and pastors from preaching against murder or counseling their parishioners not to seek abortions.”

The Pro-Life Action League spoke out against the bill, too, saying it could “destroy Illinois’ robust network of pregnancy resource centers” in a state where aborting unborn babies is encouraged and taxpayer-funded.

“This horrible bill attempts to muzzle pro-life pregnancy centers with massive fines for ‘disinformation,’” the pro-life organization warned last month.

Pregnancy resource centers are community-based charities where women learn that there are risks to abortion. They learn about their unborn baby’s development and receive financial and emotional support. Pregnancy centers provide evidence-based information that women may not learn anywhere else, especially not at an abortion facility.

According to an analysis by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, they have helped save more than 800,000 unborn babies from abortion since 2016. The research found U.S. pregnancy resource centers served about 2 million people in 2019, providing more than 730,000 pregnancy tests, nearly half a million ultrasounds, 1.3 million packs of diapers and more than 2 million baby outfits, all for free.

But because they share the truth, pregnancy centers have become a target of attacks, from arson and vandalismto legislationto media hit pieces and slanderous pro-abortion campaigns.

Illinois had some of the most liberal abortion laws in the country. In 2021, the state legislature ignored the public’s wishes and voted to repeal its parental notification law, which required at least one parent to be notified before their underage daughter has an abortion. The state also forces taxpayers to pay for abortions and allows unborn babies to be aborted for basically any reason up to birth.

In 2021, 46,243 abortions were reported, according to statistics from the Illinois health department.

Action: Contact Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.