Christian crisis pregnancy centers in the Chicago suburbs are taking legal action against the Illinois state government for a new law they say coerces them into providing information about abortion to pregnant patients despite moral and religious objections.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the two Christian facilities join a host of other Illinois healthcare providers in challenging the mandate passed late last year that they believe violates their First Amendment rights and federal laws forbidding discrimination against doctors and health care workers who do not provide or refer patients for abortions.
The law in question was originally passed in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling in an effort to protect physician’s who did not agree with abortion. Subsequent modifications to the right-of-conscience law, however, allegedly seek to protect patients who may not be aware of their options.
The contentious Illinois legislation, signed by Governor Bruce Rauner, defines a “standard of care” that includes informing patients of all their medical options—including abortion and contraception—regardless of a physician’s personal views. As of January 1, doctors and nurses must at least offer patients seeking a certain treatment or procedure a list of product providers who could perform such.
“A pro-life physician cannot in good conscience do that,” said Thomas Olp, an attorney for the Thomas More Society, a nonprofit religious liberty law firm, who is representing the clinics in their lawsuit. Olp told the Tribune that providing a referral to an abortion provider would be considered by anti-abortion physicians “material involvement in something that’s inherently evil.”
Olp noted that 1st Way Pregnancy Support Services in McHenry County and Pregnancy Aid South Suburbs do not receive and state or federal funding, and their suit will be consolidated with another lawsuit over the law.
While it is unclear how the state plans on enforcing the new modification, Olp fears that patients who aren’t made aware of the so-called “options” could sue their healthcare provider for malpractice. Additionally, he believes the state’s licensing board could also discipline doctors and nurses directly.
As the Christian Post reports, the Illinois legislation comes on the heels of similar laws in California and Hawaii. In 2015, the California state assembly passed a bill that required all licensed pregnancy centers to post signs that refer patients to abortion clinics. Earlier this year, Hawaii’s legislature advanced a bill that would fine clincis up to $1,000, if they fail to provide adequate information about the state’s public programs that “provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services including… abortion.”
H/T: Christian Post