ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — On Thursday, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a law that prohibits pro-life groups from using “deceptive tactics” to divert women seeking an abortion to an alternative. A Rockford group has joined a lawsuit calling the new law “unconstitutional.”
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 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. As a result, patients may disclose personal medical information, unaware the center may not keep that information private and confidential. By signing this law at a time when reproductive health access faces continued attacks in other states, Governor Pritzker is helping to protect patients who seek care in Illinois from these extreme violations of trust and privacy.”
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.
Opponents of the bill said that it violates the First Amendment, giving too much leeway to the attorney general’s office on which facilities can be penalized, as well as discriminating against certain organizations.
The Rockford Family Initiative, which has organized demonstrations outside of the Rockford Family Planning Center abortion clinic at 611 Auburn Street, announced the same day that it has co-signing a lawsuit brought by the Thomas More Society “to protect pregnancy care centers and pro-life sidewalk counselors,” calling the new law “unconstitutional, unjust, harmful and dangerous.”
“We will continue to offer mothers in need help, love, and support so they can choose life based on facts from science, embryology, ultrasound imaging, sound reasoning, morality, and faith in Jesus Christ that all lives matter and should be loved and protected,” said spokesman Kevin Rillott.
“This is a blatant attempt to chill and silence pro-life speech under the guise of consumer protections,” said Thomas More Society Executive Vice President Peter Breen. “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.”
The Rockford Family Initiative is affiliated with the Aurora-based Pro-Life Action League, whose executive director, Eric J. Scheidler, issued a statement following the law’s signing, saying, “If you’re a poor woman in Illinois facing an untimely pregnancy, J.B. Pritzker and the Democrats want you to have only one option: abortion. That’s what SB 1909 is all about: protecting abortionists’ profits while depriving women of the help they’re seeking from pro-life pregnancy centers. But this attack on the welfare of poor women and the civil rights of pro-life advocates will not stand. It is patently unconstitutional, and we’re going to fight it in court—and win.”
The suit, NIFLA v Raoul, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Western Division.
Illinois is one of the few states in the Midwest that strongly protects reproductive rights. Around 30,000-40,000 patients have crossed into Illinois after the fall of Roe v. Wade to seek abortion care.