CV NEWS FEED // A Catholic organization filed a lawsuit against Illinois for a law signed yesterday that targets pregnancy help clinics.
The bill blocks pro-life speech outside of abortion centers and impairs the freedom of pregnancy help centers by scrutinizing them for “misrepresentation” and “false pretense.” Signed by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on July 27, the law prohibits so-called “deceptive practices” in pregnancy centers.
The Thomas More Society will represent the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) and other sidewalk counseling and pregnancy help organizations in the lawsuit against Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
In a press release for the Society, Tom Ciesielka decried the measure for “declar[ing] the pro-life speech of the state’s … pregnancy help ministries to be a ‘deceptive business practice.’”
The “Deceptive Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers Act” enables the attorney general to investigate resource centers if he “believes it to be in the public interest that an investigation should be made to ascertain whether a limited services pregnancy center has engaged in, is engaging in, or is about to engage in” any “deceptive practices.”
The act also seeks to prevent sidewalk counseling by making it illegal to “interfere with” someone entering an abortion facility.
Sidewalk counseling is a practice in which pro-life advocates reach out to women seeking abortions by informing them, through signs, pamphlets, and conversation, of other resources available besides abortion.
Under the new law, a person near an abortion facility cannot persuade someone “to enter or access” a pregnancy help clinic or engage in “advertising, soliciting, or otherwise offering pregnancy-related services.”
In the release, Thomas More Society Executive Vice President Peter Breen called the law “a blatant attempt to chill and silence pro-life speech under the guise of ‘consumer protection.’”
“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,” Breen said.
The Illinois Press Office of the Attorney General did not respond to a request for comment.