August 7, 2023

Federal Judge Issues Injunction Blocking Illinois SB1909

Thomas More Society Executive Vice President
and Head of Litigation Peter Breen
A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of SB1909, a law threatening legal action against pro-life speech from pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) accused of "deception" or "omission of any material fact" when providing alternatives for abortion.

District Judge Iain Johnston issued the injunction late on August 3 after hearing arguments from the Thomas More Society, the law firm representing a coalition of PRCs and pro-life groups challenging SB1909. Johnston was appointed by former President Trump. 

“There’s no doubt who the Attorney General wants to win or lose in the marketplace of ideas, but the government doesn’t get to decide that,” Johnston said. “The people do.”

Peter Breen, Executive Vice President and Head of Litigation for the Thomas More Society and former Illinois State Representative, celebrated the injunction in a press release. “Free Speech won today in the Land of Lincoln—pro-life advocates across Illinois can breathe a sigh of relief they won’t be pursued for ‘misinformation’ by Attorney General Kwame Raoul.”

“Across the nation, pregnancy help ministries are being discriminated against by laws that target their life-affirming work,” Breen continued. “The injunction granted today sends a strong, clear message to the country that the First Amendment protects pro-life speech.”

The new law, signed by Gov. JB Pritzker last week, threatens legal action against pro-life pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) accused of providing misinformation, including "the omission of any material fact." This broad language causes some pro-life activists to fear it may force PRCs to refer women for abortions.

If SB19009 was enforced, the state could levy fines of $50,000 against PRCs if they are found guilty.

In a statement obtained by the Washington Post, Gov. Pritzker said he is confident the pro-abortion law will eventually be upheld.

“I’m disappointed that the far-right is interfering with the ability for women to access safe medical care without deception or lies,” he said. “This law is constitutional and I am confident that the law will ultimately be found constitutional and we’ll continue to work alongside Attorney General Raoul to ensure Illinois patients are protected from misinformation.”

In a similar case that went to the US Supreme Court in 2018, the Court struck down a California law forcing PRCs to refer women for abortions.

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