Illinois Sued Over Bill Targeting Pro-Life Counselors, Pregnancy Centers for Supposed ‘Deceptive Business Practices’
Ridiculous and disgusting, even for a pro-abortion state like Illinois.
The Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit against Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul over Senate Bill 1909. The organization is representing the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) and Pro-Life Action League and Rockford Family Initiative. The latter provides sidewalk counselors.
The bill targets crisis pregnancy centers in Illinois, an abortion haven state. So much for “pro-choice.” Love it when the pro-abortionists show their true colors.
Illinois claims the bill prevents “deceptive business practices” because they supposedly talk women out of abortions.
No words about Planned Parenthood, which has a deceptive name!
The legislature insists it does not intend “to regulate, limit, or curtail the ability to counsel against abortion if an organization and its agents are otherwise operating in compliance with the law.”
The bill is disgusting and filled with lies because crisis pregnancy centers unless associated with a religion, provide women with information on all options.
Illinois describes these centers as “limited services” centers:
(b) A limited services pregnancy center shall not engage in unfair methods of competition or unfair or deceptive acts or practices, including the use or employment of any deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, or misrepresentation, or the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact, with the intent that others rely upon the concealment, suppression, or omission of such material fact:
(1) to interfere with or prevent an individual from seeking to gain entry or access to a provider of abortion or emergency contraception;
(2) to induce an individual to enter or access the limited services pregnancy center;
(3) in advertising, soliciting, or otherwise offering pregnancy-related services; or
(4) in conducting, providing, or performing pregnancy-related services.
So the legislature’s intent is:
It is also the public policy of the State to ensure that patients receive timely access to information and medically appropriate care and that consumers are protected from deceptive and unfair practices. Despite these laws, vulnerable State residents and nonresidents seeking health care in this State have repeatedly been misled by organizations and their agents purporting to provide comprehensive reproductive health care services, but which, in reality, aim to dissuade pregnant persons from considering abortion care through deceptive, fraudulent, and misleading information and practices, without any regard for a pregnant person’s concerns or circumstances.
Illinois has a problem with the centers’ advertising because they dare to go against the gospel of abortion:
The advertisements and information given by these organizations provide grossly inaccurate or misleading information overstating the risks associated with abortion, including conveying untrue claims that abortion causes cancer or infertility and concealing data that shows the risk of death associated with childbirth is approximately 14 times higher than the risk of death associated with an abortion. This misinformation is intended to cause undue delays and disruption to protected, time-sensitive, reproductive health care services, and the State has an interest in preventing health risks and associated costs caused and compounded by unnecessary delays in obtaining life-changing or life-saving reproductive care. Even when an organization offers free services, all of this activity has a commercial and economic impact on where, when, and how reproductive care is provided.
The Thomas More Society filed the lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Western Division. The complaint also notes Illinois’ obsession with abortion and how the state protects abortion providers.
“This law is a blatant attempt to chill and silence pro-life speech under the guise of ‘consumer protection,’” Peter Breen, Thomas More Society Executive Vice President and Head of Litigation, and a former Illinois State Legislator, said in a press statement. “Pregnancy help ministries provide real options and assistance to women and families in need, but instead of the praise they deserve, pro-abortion politicians are targeting these ministries with $50,000 fines and injunctions solely because of their pro-life viewpoint.”
The complaint spells out the services many crisis pregnancy centers provide for women and pregnant women.
As I said before, many pregnancy centers affiliated with religion do not provide information about abortions.
But Relevant Pregnancy Options Center, a non-profit organization, provides abortion information: “While it has religious objections to performing or providing referrals for abortions, Relevant does discuss abortion as one of many options available to its clients as it seeks to empower women to make informed choices regarding their futures.”
Women’s Help Services, another Christian organization, does not promote abortion services. It does discuss it: “Women’s Help Services discusses abortion in many of the services it provides, but its religious beliefs prohibit it from promoting or participating in any manner in abortion, including providing referrals to or affiliating with organizations that provide abortions.”
Then there’s the targeting of sidewalk counselors. Many women seeking abortions are either forced to do it or think it’s the only choice they have. They do not ambush, force, or threaten women. None of those represented in the lawsuit have ever had complaints or lawsuits against them.
The lawsuit has six causes of action. The first two allege a violation of free speech and religion.
The first cause of action regarding free speech states:
The First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause, made applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, protects Plaintiffs’ rights to speak, to publish speech, to be free from content and viewpoint discrimination, to be free from unconstitutional conditions, to be free from vague laws allowing unbridled discretion, and to be free from overbroad laws.
SB1909 subjects Plaintiffs to investigations, subpoenas, fines, injunctions, and even dissolution because of the pro-life content and viewpoint of their speech and because they are life-affirming organizations. SB1909 further subjects Plaintiffs to civil liability in private rights of action because of the pro-life content and viewpoint of their speech and because they are lifeaffirming organizations.
The “Legislative Intent” Section One of SB1909 demonstrates that SB1909 targets Plaintiffs because of their pro-life views.
If not for SB1909, Plaintiffs and their agents, including their staff and volunteers, would freely engage in protected speech, without hesitancy or fear of government punishment
The second cause of action regarding freedom of religion states:
Plaintiffs have sincerely held religious beliefs that motivate and require them to operate their ministries in accordance with biblical moral teachings affirming the value and dignity of life at every stage, from the moment of conception, and to teach and explain those beliefs to the public and those they serve.
SB1909 substantially burdens Plaintiffs’ right to the free exercise of religion by forcing them to choose between complying with their religious beliefs or complying with Illinois law. Specifically, SB1909 inhibits Plaintiffs from freely following their religious beliefs about abortion, which includes obligations to inform others about their religious beliefs and scientific information about pregnancy and the unborn, and to perform acts of charity for those in need, because of the chilling effect of SB1909’s threatened punishment.
SB1909 is not a neutral or generally applicable law for multiple reasons
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