July 28, 2023

Gov. Pritzker Signs SB1909 to Punish Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers

Gov. JB Pritzker (D)
On July 27, pro-abortion Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) signed SB1909. This legislation empowers the Illinois Attorney General to take legal action against pro-life pregnancy resource centers (PRCs).

PRCs offer services to vulnerable mothers and families to help them choose life for their children. These services can include prenatal care, pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, STD testing, financial assistance, career assistance, parental counseling, and maternity and baby items. Often, PRCs provide these services for free with the help of donations from pro-life advocates and volunteers.

Titled the “Deceptive Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers Act,” SB1909 prohibits PRCs from "the use or employment of any deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, or misrepresentation, or the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact" when providing pro-life alternatives to abortion. The law only applies to "limited services pregnancy centers," which are defined as pregnancy centers that don't offer abortion, contraception, or referrals for those services.

These terms, from "deception" to "omission of any material fact" are not defined by the law. When questioned about the legal definition of "deceptive practices" during a committee hearing, the Deputy Attorney General for Policy said that complaints would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. This leaves the law open to broad interpretation. Some argue it could force PRCs to provide referrals for abortion.

A coalition of PRCs quickly filed a federal lawsuit against Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to halt SB1909's enforcement. This coalition is represented by the Thomas Moore Society.

“This law is a blatant attempt to chill and silence pro-life speech under the guise of ‘consumer protection,’” explained Peter Breen, Thomas More Society Executive Vice President and Head of Litigation, and a former Illinois State Legislator. “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.”