ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A federal judge in Rockford has granted a temporary injunction, halting Illinois’ new abortion law while a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality can proceed.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a law last week that prohibits pro-life groups from using “deceptive practices” to divert women seeking an abortion to an alternative.
U.S. District Judge Iain Johnston said Thursday the new law “is painfully and blatantly a violation of the First Amendment.”
“Across the nation, pregnancy help ministries are being discriminated against by laws that target their life-affirming work,” said attorney Peter Breen. “The injunction granted today sends a strong, clear message to the country that the First Amendment protects pro-life speech.”
The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, Women’s Pregnancy Services, Rockford Family Initiative, Relevant Pregnancy Options Center, and Pro-Life Action League filed a motion for an emergency injunction, which would halt the law from going into effect until the outcome of the NIFLA v Raoul case can be decided.
“This injunction against SB 1909 is not just a victory for the pro-life community in Illinois. It’s a victory for the women of Illinois, who are being pushed by J.B. Pritzker and the General Assenbly into abortions they often desperately do not want. This injunction restores real choice to women facing untimely pregnancy in Illinois — and a chance at life for their unborn children,” said Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League.
Pritzker signed SB1909, the Deceptive Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers Act, which bars “so-called ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ from using misinformation, deceptive practices, or misrepresentation in order to interfere with access to abortion services or emergency contraception.”
“I’m disappointed that the far-right is interfering with the ability for women to access safe medical care without deception or lies,” Pritzker said in a statement. “This law is constitutional and I am confident that the law will ultimately be found constitutional and we’ll continue to work alongside Attorney General Raoul to ensure Illinois patients are protected from misinformation.”
“I witnessed deceptive crisis pregnancy center tactics firsthand on a visit to tour a Planned Parenthood health center in Illinois. People who appeared as though they might work there were outside attempting to divert patients away from the health center,” Attorney General Kwame Raoul said. “Patients report going to crisis pregnancy centers – sometimes even receiving exams and ultrasounds – thinking they were visiting a clinic that offers the full range of reproductive care.
The bill amends the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, which currently does not include healthcare professionals and applies the existing language to the abortion industry.
“This is a blatant attempt to chill and silence pro-life speech under the guise of consumer protections,” said Breen, Executive Vice President of Thomas More Society, which represents the plaintiffs. “Pregnancy help ministries provide real options and assistance to women and families in need, but instead of the praise they deserve, pro-abortion-rights politicians are targeting these ministries with $50,000 fines and injunctions solely because of their pro-life viewpoint.”
Around 30,000-40,000 patients have crossed into Illinois after the fall of Roe v. Wade to seek abortion care.
Of the 27 new clinics that have opened in the past year in states protecting abortion, six are operated by providers who moved from states where abortion is illegal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.