Friday, Jul 28, 2023

Every woman deserves to receive accurate and reliable information about pregnancy and childbirth, and pregnancy help centers often provide this along with comfort and support when, at times, no one else will do so. They are a vital resource in our communities and their wide array of services are provided to women free of charge and to many who are poor and marginalized.   

On July 27, 2023, Senate Bill 1909 (now Public Act 103-0270) was signed by Governor Pritzker and became law effective immediately upon the Governor’s approval.  The law imposes civil penalties targeted only at pregnancy help centers for “deceptive practices.”  The new law is open to broad interpretation by the Illinois Attorney General and interferes with the ability of pregnancy help centers to exercise their First Amendment rights, including free speech, when providing comprehensive support to pregnant women. The language in the law prohibiting “unfair” or “deceptive practices” is so vague no worker in a pregnancy help center will know if they have violated the law.  This is a chilling effect on free speech.

The Thomas More Society, representing the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), a national pregnancy help center network, along with several Illinois pregnancy help centers and pro-life organizations, has filed a federal lawsuit to stop the Illinois Attorney General from enforcing the new law.  The Catholic Conference of Illinois supports this effort to defend and protect the First Amendment rights of pregnancy help centers in Illinois so they can continue to provide women with support and information to empower them to make informed decsions about their pregnancies.