llinois Judge Suspends Abortion Notification Law

Measure forces pregnancy centers to promote abortion

Church Militant

Stephen Wynne

ROCKFORD, Ill. (ChurchMilitant.com) – In a setback for mandatory abortion referral laws, a federal judge is halting implementation of an Illinois notification measure.

U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Kapala has temporarily suspended enforcement of SB1564, a measure that compels pro-life pregnancy care centers and doctors to publicize abortion to their clients. In his ruling, Kapala warned that SB1564, an amendment to the Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act, may threaten religious liberty and free speech rights.

SB1564 went into effect January 1. In response, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates joined with 18 Illinois pregnancy care centers to challenge it in court. . . [Full text]


Pro-life Doctor Challenging Illinois Law That Forces Docs to Counsel Patients on Abortion “Benefits”

New American

Raven Clabough

A pro-life doctor in Illinois is embroiled in a legal battle to challenge a 2016 law that requires all doctors, pharmacists, and pregnancy centers to assist women in obtaining abortions, regardless of whether the medical professionals are opposed to the procedure.

SB 1564 narrowly passed the Illinois House on party lines before being signed into law by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. Under the law, which amends the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act, doctors are required to provide information to patients about the “benefits” of abortion. It indicates that medical personnel must “inform a patient of the patient’s condition, prognosis, legal treatment options, and risks and benefits of the treatment options in a timely manner consistent with current standards of medical practice.”

The law mandates that physicians who are unwilling to provide the requested service “because the healthcare service is contrary to the conscience of the healthcare facility, physician, or healthcare personnel” must refer the patient to someone who will.

But those opposed to abortion contend that asking them to refer patients to someone who will provide them abortion services continues to violate their consciences. . .  [Full text]


Important legal action: 18 women’s health organizations sue Illinois Gov. Rauner

Illinois Pregnancy Resource Centers Sue Governor for First Amendment Violations:  State Law Compels Staff to Refer for Abortions Despite Religious Objections

News Release

Thomas More Society

(February 10, 2017 – Chicago) Eighteen Illinois women’s health organizations are suing Governor Bruce Rauner over Illinois’ new law forcing pro-life doctors and pregnancy resource centers to discuss abortion benefits and refer pregnant women for abortions despite their conscience-based opposition to abortion.

The controversial SB 1564, which amended the Health Care Right of Conscience Act effective January 1, 2017, has left Illinois’ over 90 not-for-profit pregnancy resource centers with little choice but to file suit seeking a judicial determination that the law unconstitutionally abridges their free speech and interferes with their religious beliefs.

The Thomas More Society filed for injunctive relief this week on behalf of 18 of the centers, citing violations of multiple rights under the Constitution of the State of Illinois. It filed an action on behalf of two others late last week, The Women’s Centers of Greater Chicagoland and Hope Life Center in Sterling, Illinois. Some of the centers have been forced to stop medical services, which include pregnancy tests, sonograms, and STD testing, until the legal issues are resolved.

Thomas Olp, Attorney for the Thomas More Society, observed, “This law targets pro-life pregnancy centers, which do not refer for abortion, and whose pro-life mission is to advise clients of alternatives to abortion. The new law requires these pro-life centers, and only them, to discuss ‘benefits’ of abortion with their clients and to name abortion providers upon request. This is the essence of forced government speech prohibited by the free speech provisions of our federal and state constitutions. The First Amendment equally protects the right to speak and not to speak. The government cannot show a compelling reason for this requirement since information about abortion is readily available from all sorts of public and private sources.

It is as easy to find the location of an abortion clinic as to find our clients’ pregnancy resource centers. Moreover, the law is content-based and viewpoint-discriminatory, meaning it applies to a certain type of speech, and targets only conscience-based objectors, but leaves all others free from regulation. Its intent really is to directly interfere with pro-life pregnancy centers that have aided many thousands of pregnant women over the years learn that abortion is not the only choice in a problem pregnancy, and that adoption and parenting are not only healthier choices for the mother but avoid the tragedy of abortion, which kills an unborn child. In my view, the law is nefarious and pernicious in its targeting of pro-life physicians and pregnancy resource centers.”

The lawsuit, filed in the Circuit Court of the Seventh Judicial Circuit, Sangamon County, Illinois – Chancery Division, charges Governor Rauner and his Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, Bryan Schneider, with several constitutional violations resulting from enacting SB 1564. The Plaintiffs advance claims under the free speech, religious liberty, due process, and equal protection clauses of the state constitution.

Those abuses include infringement of the following rights:

The Constitution of the State of Illinois’ guarantee that, “All persons may speak, write, and publish freely.” The Plaintiffs’ freedom of speech is abridged when the state compels them to discuss treatment options and disclose abortion providers to which they possess sincerely-held religious objections.

The statute is vague and therefore violates constitutional due process because it does not give fair notice to a person of common intelligence as to what it requires. Rather, one must guess as to its meaning.

The statute denies plaintiffs equal protection of the laws in that it targets a class of conscience-based objectors but does not regulate health care providers who do not have conscience-based objections.

The law interferes with the Illinois Constitution’s guarantee of free exercise of religion. Article I, Section 3 guarantees “the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination.”

The Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects Illinoisans’ free exercise of religion. SB 1564 substantially burdens the plaintiffs’ exercise of religion.

Mary Strom, Executive Director of The Women’s Centers, which has three sites in the Chicago area, stated that the organization’s success is directly tied to its Catholic identity, even while it serves women of all faiths. “I credit the success we have had in helping women to the power of prayer,” she shared. “Everything comes from that.”

Hope Life Center in Sterling, Illinois, was founded by Laura Petigoue and her husband, Mark. “It was after I learned about the devastation that abortion brings that we dedicated ourselves to addressing the needs of women experiencing unplanned pregnancies and providing loving, Christ-centered alternatives,” recalled Petigoue, who is greatly saddened by Illinois’ adoption of this law she calls, “monstrously prejudicial.” Debbie Case, the Executive Director of Hope Life Center, noted, “For over 30 years, Hope Life Center has been the only organization in our community dedicated to providing women with the education and medical services they need to make informed decisions about unwanted pregnancies. Now we have had to suspend all our medical services because this new law mandates us to serve these women in a way that is harmful to them and to their unborn children. We’re seeking relief from this law so we can get back to doing what we do best, taking care of vulnerable women in our community.”

Mr. Olp also observed, “Most of our Plaintiffs have literally spent decades helping women by providing information about alternatives to abortion (parenting and adoption), thereby helping to empower and encourage them to recognize that a choice for life for their unborn child is much preferable to abortion both for them and for their unborn babies. The new law strikes at the Plaintiffs’ faith-based ability to render effective assistance to pregnant women about child bearing and child rearing by requiring them to substitute a secular government-sponsored message totally at odds with their faith position. The government is not permitted constitutionally to do this, in our view.”

The Pregnancy Resource Centers filing suit this week were:

WATERLEAF WOMEN’S CENTER, Aurora and Bolingbrook;

Link to the above filing here.

Read the Verified Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, filed February 2, 2017, in the Circuit Court of the Seventh Judicial Circuit, Sangamon County, Illinois – Chancery Division, in the case, The Women’s Centers of Greater Chicagoland, a not-for-profit Illinois corporation, and Hope Life Center, Inc., a not-for-profit Illinois corporation v. Bruce Rauner, in his official capacity as Governor of State of Illinois, Bryan A. Schneider, in his official capacity as Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, in his official capacity here.

The Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago and Omaha, the Thomas More Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. For more information, visit thomasmoresociety.org.


Doctor, multiple pregnancy care centers file federal suit over Illinois mandate to promote abortion

SB 1564 violates federal law, Constitution

News Release

Alliance Defending Freedom

ROCKFORD, Ill. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing multiple pregnancy care centers, a pregnancy care center network, and a doctor and her medical practice filed suit Thursday in federal court against Gov. Bruce Rauner after he recently signed a bill into law that forces them to promote abortion regardless of their ethical or moral views. The lawsuit also names Bryan Schneider, secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

ADF sent a letter to Rauner in May on behalf of numerous pro-life physicians, pregnancy care centers, and pregnancy care center network organizations advising him that the bill, SB 1564, would violate federal law and therefore place federal funding, including Medicaid reimbursements, in jeopardy. ADF also warned legislators about the problems with the bill last year. The lawsuit claims the new law, which is actually an amendment to the existing Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act, violates federal law and the U.S. Constitution.

“No state should attempt to rob women of the freedom to choose a pro-life doctor, but that is the choice that Illinois is eliminating by mandating that pro-life physicians and entities make or arrange abortion referrals. To make matters worse, the state did this by amending a law designed specifically to protect freedom of conscience,” said ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman. “As our lawsuit explains, the law is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution and both federal and state law, which protect citizens from being forced by the government to live and act in a way contrary to their faith and conscience.”

The new law forces pregnancy care centers, medical facilities, and physicians who conscientiously object to involvement in abortions to adopt policies that provide women who ask for abortions with a list of providers “they reasonably believe may offer” them. Both federal and state law prohibit the government from placing burdens on religious conscience without a compelling interest for doing so. Additionally, the Illinois Constitution protects “liberty of conscience,” saying that “no person shall be denied any civil or political right, privilege or capacity, on account of his religious opinions.” Both the Illinois Constitution and the U.S. Constitution protect free speech, which includes the right not to be compelled by government to speak a message contrary to one’s own conscience.

“Medical professionals and pregnancy care centers shouldn’t be forced to speak a message completely at odds with their mission and ethics,” explained ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “The centers offer women free information and services and do so at no cost to the government. They empower women who are or think they may be pregnant to give birth in circumstances where they may want to but don’t feel they have the necessary resources or social support. All SB 1564 accomplishes is to eliminate this choice for the women who need it most.”

Mauck & Baker LLC attorneys Noel Sterett and Whitman Briskey, two of nearly 3,100 private attorneys allied with ADF, are co-counsel in the case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Rauner, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. ADF attorneys filed a similar lawsuit in state court last month.

  • Pronunciation guide: Bowman (BOH’-min)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

Does an Illinois bill threaten doctors’ conscience rights? Depends on whom you ask

Catholic News Agency

Matt Hadro

Springfield, Ill., May 29, 2015 / 03:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An Illinois bill that some say threatens the conscience rights of medical providers is currently under consideration in the state’s general assembly.

Catholics and pro-lifers are divided among themselves over the implications of SB 1564 for the conscience rights of medical providers.

While the state’s Catholic Conference is neutral on the bill, the Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom states that it “would force medical facilities and physicians who conscientiously object to involvement in abortions (and other procedures) to refer for, make arrangements for someone else to perform, or arrange referral information that lists willing providers, for abortions.” . . . [Full text]


Illinois controversy about legislative overreach

 Catholic bishops withdraw opposition, others remain opposed

Confrontation centres on complicity

Sean Murphy*


Among American states, Illinois has the most comprehensive protection of conscience legislation, the Health Care Right of Conscience Act (HCRCA). In 2009 an attempt was made to nullify the Act with respect to abortion, contraception and related procedures by introducing HB 2354 (Reproductive Health and Access Act), but the bill died in committee two years later.1 Now it appears that the HRCA may be changed by Senate Bill 1564. Critics say the bill tramples upon physician freedom of conscience,2 while the bill’s supporters, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), claim that the bill is “about making sure no one is withholding information from the patient.”3

SB 1564 was actually drafted by the ACLU,3 but it was introduced by Illinois Senator Daniel Biss. He said that the amendments were partly in response to the case of a woman who was miscarrying over several weeks, but who was refused “diagnosis or options” in the hospital where she had sought treatment.4  Senator Bliss was apparently referring to the story of Mindy Swank, who testified before a Senate legislative panel about her experience.  The Illinois Times reported that she suffered “a dangerous, weeks-long miscarriage” because of the refusal of Catholic hospitals to provide abortions.5

Unfortunately, the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee does not record or transcribe its hearings, and conflicting news reports make it difficult to determine exactly what happened at some critical points in her story.  Moreover, it appears that the Committee did not hear from the hospitals and physicians who were involved with Ms. Swank, so we are left with a one-sided account of what took place.6

Nonetheless, as a first step in considering the particulars of the bill and the controversy it has engendered, it is appropriate to review the evidence offered to support it.  We will begin with Mindy Swank’s testimony, even if some details are lacking, and then examine the experience of Angela Valavanis, a second case put forward by the ACLU to justify SB 1564.7  [Full Text]

In Illinois, Bishops and Pro-Life Groups Differ on ACLU Conscience Bill

National Catholic Register

Peter Jesserer Smith

Both parties don’t like the pro-abortion-rights organization’s bill, but the Illinois Catholic Conference is standing neutral while local pro-life groups campaign against it in the state legislature.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A battle is under way over conscience rights and health care in the Illinois Legislature that has pro-life groups on one side, the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood on the other, and the Illinois Catholic Conference standing neutral on the sidelines.

The ACLU of Illinois has proposed a change to Illinois’ broad legal protections for the conscience rights of health-care workers with S.B. 1564, which has already passed the state senate, but whose defeat the pro-life groups are urging in the state house.

If health-care facilities or personnel decline to provide services for reasons of conscience — such as abortions or sterilizations — the bill’s protocols would require them either to make referrals for such services or to provide information about other places where they are likely to be available. [Full Text]

An Open Letter to the Illinois Legislature

The state should vote down a bill that would trample on citizen conscience rights

National Review

Robert P. George

To the members of the Illinois Legislature:

I understand that you are considering passing SB 1564, a bill to amend the existing laws of Illinois that protect freedom of conscience. I urge you not to do so, as SB 1564 fatally weakens the conscience rights of Illinois citizens.

SB 1564 would amend existing law to, among other things, add a new section regarding “access to care and information protocols.” This section would require “health care facilities, physicians, and health care personnel” who are opposed for reasons of conscience to performing an abortion to, nevertheless, “refer, transfer, or give information . . . about other health care providers who they reasonably believe may offer . . . the . . . service,” which includes abortion. In so providing, SB 1564 violates elementary notions of conscience protection.. . [Full text]

Opposition Mounting Against “Right of Conscience” Act

Alton Daily News, WBGZ radio

John Gregory

Anti-abortion groups are marshaling opposition to a bill which would amend the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act.  The bill to amend the law would require medical providers to provide information and referrals on treatment options they don’t provide based on personal beliefs, like abortion. State Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) labels the bill as activism disguised as legislation.  “This is simply an intrusion on people of faith, people of conviction, and the Right of Conscience (Act), no one’s told me how it’s not working,” Sandack said. [Full text]


Illinois Women’s Health and Life Alliance Urges House Defeat of SB 1564

Bill Violates Rights of Doctors, Women and Creates Legal Liabilities

News Release

Illinois Women’s Health and Life Alliance

Contact: Tom Ciesielka, 312-422-1333, 312-403-1333 cell, tc@tcpr.net

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., May 4, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — A coalition of Illinois and national leaders focused on protecting women’s health and life are calling upon Illinois State Representatives to defeat Senate Bill 1564, which seeks to amend the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act. SB 1564 will dilute and undermine the current, federally compliant law as detailed in a bipartisan U.S. Congressional letter.

WHEN: Tuesday, May 5, 2015, 12 p.m. noon (CENTRAL)

WHAT: Illinois Women’s Health and Life Alliance press conference urging an Illinois House defeat of SB 1564.

WHERE: Blue Room, Illinois State Capitol Building, 401 S 2nd Street, Springfield, IL 62701; Map

ONLINE STREAMING: www.blueroomstream.com (for subscribers)

Choose 05-05-2015 LIVE 12:00 p.m. Rep. Morrison Press Conference (SB 1564 Health Care Right of Conscience) Blue Room Springfield


• Dr. Mary Keen, MD, president of the Chicago guild of the Catholic Medical Association, will discuss how SB 1564 tramples on doctors’ rights of conscience.

• Debbie Shultz, executive director of Lifetime Pregnancy Help Center in Springfield, will speak to why it is imperative that the rights of conscience of those working at pro-life pregnancy centers not be violated by SB 1564.

• Illinois House Representative Ron Sandack (R – Downers Grove) will explain why he is voting against SB 1564 and is encouraging his legislative peers to vote against it as well.

• Attorney Anna Paprocki, staff counsel at Americans United for Life, will address SB 1564’s devastating legal implications for Illinois.

WHY: Illinois Women’s Health and Life Alliance is urging an Illinois House defeat of SB 1564 because…

Doctors’ rights of conscience are trampled on. SB 1564 would require doctors to facilitate abortions for any reason, and at any stage of pregnancy, despite their conscientious and professional objections. Illinois’ existing conscience law already ensures patient safety is not compromised by clarifying that a physician is not relieved from a duty to “inform his or her patient of the patient’s condition, prognosis, and risks…” The current law also clearly provides that healthcare personnel are not relieved from “obligations under the law of providing emergency medical care.”

Dr. Mary Keen, MD, will speak to this issue. Keen is the medical director of Pediatric Rehabilitation at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, clinical associate professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, and attending physician in the Departments of Pediatrics and Orthopedic Surgery Section of Rehabilitation Medicine. Keen is also president of the Chicago guild of the Catholic Medical Association.

The rights of those working at pro-life pregnancy centers are trampled on. SB 1564 would require pregnancy center workers to violate their core mission by referring women for abortions or distributing information on where to obtain abortions. Pregnancy centers that exist to offer women alternatives to abortions are healthcare providers bound by the bill’s coercive duties to promote abortions. SB 1564 would force pregnancy centers to discuss the so-called “benefits” of abortions and provide information on where to obtain abortions.

Debbie Shultz, executive director of Lifetime Pregnancy Help Center in Springfield, will speak to why it is imperative that the rights of conscience of those working at pro-life pregnancy centers not be violated by SB 1564.

Illinois becomes rife with new legal liabilities. SB 1564 jeopardizes Illinois’ federal funding including, but not limited to, the federal share of Medicaid. It violates longstanding federal conscience laws, including the Church Amendment, the Coats-Snowe Amendment, and the Hyde-Weldon Amendment. SB 1564’s requirements that healthcare providers “provide in writing information,” “transfer,” or “refer” patients for treatments to which they object, are incompatible with these federal laws. Violating these laws would seriously imperil the state’s federal funding for health-related services, which is expressly conditioned on compliance with these federal conscience laws.

Attorney Anna Paprocki will speak to this issue. Paprocki is staff counsel at Americans United for Life and a resident of Illinois. She has been interviewed about rights of conscience in a variety of news sources including National Review Online, Politico, Washington Times, Touchstone Magazine, World Magazine, National Catholic Register, Fox News, CBN, ABC News, CBS News, and NPR.

Illinois House Representative Ron Sandack (R – Downers Grove) will also address the media to emphasize why SB 1564 is a bad choice for Illinois.

Illinois Women’s Health and Life Alliance represents the following Illinois citizen organizations, physicians, and medical pregnancy center organizations, and national physician and pregnancy center organizations with Illinois members:

Illinois Citizens for Life

Illinois Family Institute

Illinois Federation for Right to Life

Illinois Right to Life

Family PAC

Lake County Right to Life

• Dr. Anthony J. Caruso, MD MPH, Downers Grove OB/GYN,

• Dr. L. Carl Jurgens, MD, OB Hospitalist, Rockford Health Physicians

• Dr. Mary Keen, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Loyola University Medical Center

• Dr. Robert C. Lawler, MD, Downers Grove OB/GYN

• Dr. Richard G. Moutvic, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology

• Dr. Joseph J. Kash, MD, Medical Director, Waterleaf, Edward Cancer Center

Aid for Women

Woman’s Choice Services


Informed Choices

Relevant Pregnancy Resource Center

The Women’s Centers of Greater Chicagoland, Ltd.

Freeport Pregnancy Center

• Pregnancy Resource Center

We Care Pregnancy Clinic

Options Now Medical Pregnancy Center

Lifetime Pregnancy Resource Center

Community Hope Center

Life Network of Southern Illinois

Alliance Defending Freedom

American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Americans United for Life

Care Net

Heartbeat International, www.HeartbeatInternational.org


The text of SB 1546

Bi-partisan U.S. Congressional letter outlining how Illinois SB 1564 violates federal funding

Analysis of the bill by staff counsel Anna Paprocki of Americans United for Life

Letter from Pregnancy Resource Centers and OB/GYNs against SB 1564

Americans United for Life staff counsel Anna Paprocki’s response to an op-ed promoting the bill

About the Illinois Women’s Health and Life Alliance

The Illinois Women’s Health and Life Alliance is a coalition of Illinois and national leaders who have come together to protect women’s health and life in Illinois. Represented by two national public interest law firms, the Illinois Women’s Health and Life Alliance is comprised of thirty Illinois citizen organizations, physicians, and medical pregnancy center organizations, and national physician and pregnancy center associations with Illinois members.