Illinois Law Assaults Pregnancy Centers, Stirs Pro-Life Backlash

The recent signing of Senate Bill 1909 by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has rattled the pro-life community, triggering a swift legal counterstrike. The bill dubbed the “Deceptive Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers Act,” was promptly met with a federal lawsuit by attorneys with the pro-life Thomas More Society. The legislation is allegedly aimed at restricting the life-saving work of pregnancy centers.

Pregnancy centers, often the life-raft for women navigating the choppy waters of unexpected pregnancies, are now under a cloud of suspicion in Illinois due to SB 1909. Critics, however, cannot establish the need for these centers to be subject to fraud laws beyond existing ones. Illinois state Rep. Terra Costa Howard (D), a chief House sponsor of SB 1909, claimed the act empowers the attorney general’s office to investigate claims under the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act. But, this authority was already available, according to Ashley Hokenson, Illinois deputy attorney general.

As of yet, SB 1909 supporters cannot present a specific pattern of deceptive legal violations by the pregnancy help industry, leaving one to question why the attorney general has not leveraged existing fraud law if such a pattern were evident. In a search for truth, a client of the Thomas More Society law firm filed a Freedom of Information Act request for Illinois complaints over the past ten years. What was unveiled should bring pause to supporters of the new bill: zero verifiable complaints against Illinois pregnancy centers.

Despite this evidence, bill proponents, who failed to validate their objections, pressed ahead with the legislation. The voting results did not mirror the public sentiment, with most Illinois citizens standing against the bill. Yet, the attorney general’s office played a dubious role, issuing contradicting statements regarding SB 1909 enforcement while glorifying each partisan vote.

Furthermore, the attorney general’s office did not define a deceptive practice, planning to decide post facto. For instance, the bill indicates that it would be misleading to hide data showing the risk of death associated with childbirth is higher than with an abortion. State Senator Sue Rezin, however, cited a study revealing the potential under-reporting of adverse effects of abortion due to a lack of federal reporting requirements. Such examples demonstrate the lack of clarity in the law.

The law’s passage sparked strong condemnation. Several state representatives voiced their objection, calling it an “overt persecution” of those who don’t align with the abortion proponents. It is even being argued that the law ironically impedes informed decision-making about abortion, limiting access to necessary information. The very people upholding this law are being accused of deception.

The Thomas More Society attorneys are formulating a spirited defense against the unjust attack on pro-life speech. Head of Litigation, Peter Breen stated, “Pregnancy help ministries provide real options and assistance, but instead of the praise they deserve, pro-abortion politicians are targeting these ministries.” The lawsuit aims to protect the rights of pro-life pregnancy help centers across Illinois, enabling them to continue their commendable work of providing much-needed advice, care, and support.

As Breen observed, the introduction of this law is without rationale or provocation. Despite having the tools to take legal action against pregnancy help centers, state officials had not done so before. The absence of hard evidence or public complaints against Illinois Pregnancy Help Centers for alleged violations indicates the politics at play rather than consumer protection concerns.

This lawsuit is more than a legal battle; it represents the clash between the forces seeking to trample upon the sanctity of life and those striving to uphold it. Amid the storm, one thing is sure: the pro-life community in Illinois is standing firm, ready to face any adversity in their pursuit of preserving life and dignity.