On December 20, 2016, a judge in Rockford, Illinois issued a preliminary injunction protecting the Pregnancy Care Center of Rockford, Dr. Anthony Caruso and A Bella Baby OBGYN, and Aid for Women from SB 1564. This law will force all pregnancy resource centers, doctors, and pharmacists in Illinois to promote abortions, and will go into effect on January 1, 2017. The injunction will temporarily protect those centers listed above (the Plaintiffs) from the requirements of the law until a final decision is reached in the lawsuit filed on their behalf by Alliance Defending Freedom and Mauck & Baker LLC.
The nineteen-page court order has been issued. In it, the state court notes that the Plaintiffs in the case raised ample concerns about the legality and constitutionality of the law. The ruling states:
“Why must the State, which licenses and regulates those who provide the objected-to services, rely on the very people who object to the service to be the source of information about them?”
Noel Sterett, attorney from Mauck & Baker LLC and co-counsel in the case says,
“The Court was right. Illinois has singled out only those who conscientiously object to providing abortions as those who must carry the State’s message about abortion.”
The state court also points out its own concerns and incongruences in the defendants’ case. It remarks,
“Certainly RFRA (The Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act) [and] the Conscience Act can stand together, but in some cases – and this appears to be one of them – they irreconcilably conflict.”
It also later states,
“The Court’s concern is that the sharp edges of SB 1564 are obscured behind its invocation of professional ethical standards. Defendants argue that SB 1564 doesn’t really change the standards of conduct already imposed on providers by professional licensing requirements, and yet they would not otherwise receive. Defendants cannot have it both ways; they cannot argue that SB 1564 addresses an unmet health care need and a t the same time argue that its’ requirements are already part of existing professional standards.”
Matt Bowman, Senior Counsel from Alliance Defending Freedom and lead counsel in the case also commented on the ruling saying,
“Forcing pro-life doctors and pregnancy care centers in Illinois to operate as referral agents for the abortion industry in violation of their freedom of conscience is unconstitutional, illegal, and unethical. No state has the authority to compel health professionals, against their will and their sacred oath to ‘do no harm,’ to promote abortion. We commend the court’s ruling which is a victory for free speech and the freedom of conscience.”
“We are optimistic and we are grateful. We realize this is just the beginning of the road, but we’re really grateful that the court ruled based on our free speech rights that are found in the Constitution. We are looking forward to 2017 and following God’s leading every step of the way.”
Important Note: The injunction only protects the Plaintiffs in this case (Pregnancy Care Center of Rockford, Dr. Anthony Caruso, etc.). Their attorneys made a request to the State of Illinois to forgo the enforcement of S.B. 1564 against all pro-life people and centers until the lawsuit was complete.
The State of Illinois has refused thus far.
If you or someone you know is going to be forced to comply with this law as of January 1, 2017, there may be action you can take to protect yourself by joining the lawsuit.
For more information, contact us at Info@IllinoisRightToLife.org and we’ll be happy to connect you with the attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom and Mauck and Baker.
To view the court order, click here.
This article has been updated to include information from Heartbeat International.