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Pro-life pregnancy centers file suit against Illinois law designed to crush them for refusing to tout abortion


“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.”


A lawsuit has been filed by pro-life pregnancy centers in order to gain a restraining order against an Illinois law that specifically targets them, attempts to force them to speak government-approved messages about abortion, censors their speech, and labels them as purveyors of deceptive business practices.

Quick Facts

The law, SB1909, authored by Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office, claims that pregnancy resource centers, defined as any pregnancy clinic that does not offer or refer patients for abortions, are purveyors of deceptive business practices and therefore subject to hefty fines.

Raoul and other supporters of the law have made slanderous and false claims about crisis pregnancy centers and specifically wrote the law to target pro-life pregnancy centers.

Despite their claims that these nonprofits operate using deceptive business practices and harm women, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request showed that there have been no complaints filed against pro-life pregnancy clinics in 10 years.

On Thursday, attorneys with the Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit against Raoul seeking to stop him from enforcing the law. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of pro-life pregnancy clinics. The suit claims,

“SB1909 goes far beyond traditional restrictions on deceptive business practices, in part by stating in its express legislative intent that it unapologetically targets alleged pro-life misinformation—that is, controverted facts about abortion that the Illinois General Assembly majority believes are not among the ‘orthodox’ views on the subject.”

Moreover, it states:

“The Illinois Attorney General’s Office, which authored and will enforce SB1909, confirmed during legislative hearings on SB1909 that the law could prohibit pro-life pregnancy centers from stating that ‘Life begins at conception’ or require them to speak the State’s viewpoint that childbirth is allegedly associated with a 14-times-greater risk of death than abortion, despite studies contradicting that view and in the teeth of the pro-life position that abortion poses a 100% risk of death for the unborn child. But now, speaking common pro-life views as part of a pregnancy help ministry, or failing to speak the State’s pro-abortion views on hotly disputed issues, is illegal under state law, on pain of crippling fines, injunctions, and attorney fees.”

Meanwhile, “abortion facilities (as well as expressly exempted licensed healthcare providers and hospitals) remain free to engage in their own controversial speech about abortion, as they wish.”

The suit claims that far from helping a woman make an informed decision, the law, by stopping a woman from hearing any data or positions that oppose the state’s belief system, will force her to make the only decision the state approves of.

Peter Breen, executive vice president and head of litigation at the Thomas More Society, said in a statement,

“This law is 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.”

To say this law stands on shaky legal ground is an understatement. This is one of the most blatantly unconstitutional laws in recent history. This is the government establishing orthodox views on a highly controversial topic, attempting to compel others to speak those views, attempting to silence opposing religious and scientific positions, and targeting religious groups because of their religious beliefs.

It is hard to grasp a state in the United States creating a law for the sole purpose of singling out and fining religious nonprofits due to their views. Under the Constitution, the government cannot enforce a law designed to punish only religious citizens. Laws must be neutral.

The First Amendment protects against this type of religious persecution. Because the left cannot win the abortion debate when people know the truth and are given hope, it moves to crush pro-life pregnancy centers. The left’s war on charitable organizations that provide services to women shows the hate in their hearts. The left doesn’t actually care about women or their babies, just abortion and the profit it provides.

This suit must result in victory, and if it gets a fair hearing by neutral, Constitution-minded judges, it will.

Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.

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