Issues

Crisis pregnancy centers sue Illinois over law forcing them to discuss abortion with clients

Some crisis pregnancy centers in Illinois have filed a lawsuit against state officials, including Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, claiming a new law violates their constitutional right to free speech because it requires them to offer advice they find to be morally wrong, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The paper explains:

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.

But pro-life professionals are crying foul. Chicago Now reports:

After the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973, federal legislation was passed to represent the interests of doctors and other healthcare workers who have religious or moral objections to the controversial procedure.  These “right-of-conscience” laws  provide a measure of protection for medical personnel who do not want to perform abortions or offer abortion referrals.

In Illinois, all that changed on January 1 of this year, when  Governor Bruce Rauner’s amendment to the legislation officially took effect, requiring clinicians, regardless of their moral convictions, to inform pregnant women  about “all their options,” including abortion.  Healthcare entities must at least provide women with abortion referrals.

But as Thomas Olp, from the Thomas More Society said, “A pro-life physician cannot in good conscience do that” because a pro-lifer referring a woman to an abortion center would constitute “material involvement in something that’s inherently evil.”

Thus, some pregnancy centers filed the lawsuit, seeking their First Amendment rights. According to the Tribune:

The two Christian clinics — 1st Way Pregnancy Support Services in McHenry County and Pregnancy Aid South Suburbs — and Dr. Ronald Schroeder, who works at various crisis pregnancy centers, filed a lawsuit earlier this year in federal court in Springfield. The case recently was transferred to federal court in Chicago, and then to Rockford, where it will be consolidated with another Thomas More lawsuit over the law.

The two clinics are among a handful that have filed lawsuits in the state, some by the conservative legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, all of which are now being heard in Rockford state and federal courts. A circuit court judge in Winnebago County has barred the state from enforcing the law against three health care providers that operate pregnancy centers in Rockford, Chicago and the suburbs while the case is being heard, attorneys said.

The consequence of not informing women about abortion could be serious, the Tribune notes:

Patients who aren’t told of all their options could sue their health care provider for malpractice, and Olp said the state’s licensing board could discipline doctors or nurses directly.

A similar law was passed in California in 2015. As Live Action News reported then on the so-called Bully Bill, which also forced pro-lifers to check their free speech at the door, despite the conscience protections of Roe v. Wade.

The Illinois law is another example of the reality that those who call themselves pro-choice are actually only pro-choice when it’s what they choose. To actually allow choice is to allow everyone’s free speech to be free. Bullying those with opposing views and trying to force them into violating their consciences and religious beliefs goes against everything on which this nation was founded. It seems to abortion advocates that the right to kill a preborn baby supersedes all other rights.

In the most ironic statement in the Tribune story, Lorie Chaiten, director of the women’s and reproductive rights project at Illinois ACLU, said:

People were being denied care who weren’t told their options — they didn’t find out until they were suffering. If you’re an objecting provider, nobody is saying you have to provide any care you object to, no one is defining what that information is that you have to give. You can’t mislead people with disinformation or withhold material information.

However, if the law were really about equal information, Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities would be subject to the same standards; they would be forced to tell women there is free health care for them and people who would help them and even adopt their babies. They would hand pregnant women information on the trauma women who have abortions often suffer. But that doesn’t happen.

Chaiten is the classic “pot calling the kettle black” as she accuses pro-lifers of withholding information.

The fact is, a pro-life business (which receives absolutely no government funding) exists to support a pro-life mission, and pro-life pregnancy centers and their volunteers and employees should not be forced to violate their consciences by offering pro-abortion information.

Many women would likely consider carrying their babies to term if they actually knew the help and care available to them. But perhaps that’s what scares abortion advocates the most. Thus, laws are crafted which violate the most basic of human rights. As these pregnancy centers have shown, they are not going to comply. The lawsuit ensures the fight for the right to free speech will continue.

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