ROCKFORD, Ill. — Crisis pregnancy centers in northern Illinois have filed a federal lawsuit alleging their employees’ freedom of speech and religious rights will be violated if the state forces them to give patients information about abortion services.
The Rockford Register Star (http://bit.ly/2cG6Jym ) reported the lawsuit was filed Thursday against Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and Bryan A. Schneider, secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
It was filed on behalf of Tri-County Crisis Pregnancy Center, The Life Center Inc., Mosaic Pregnancy & Health Centers, Dr. Tina Gingrich of the Maryville Women’s Center, and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates.
The 33-page lawsuit contended that on July 29 the governor signed into a law an amendment to the Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act, which requires centers to speak with women who are inquiring about abortion and where to go to have the procedure. Enforcement of the amendment violates freedom of speech rights, freedom to exercise one’s religion and “constitutes discrimination,” the suit states.
According to the lawsuit, the centers involved are religious, anti-abortion organizations.
“The government shouldn’t be putting messages in people’s mouths,” said Noel Sterett, an attorney for the centers.
The centers hope to have the Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act amendment, which goes into effect Jan. 1, abolished as unconstitutional. The suit also seeks to have the state permanently barred from enforcing the amendment and from penalizing those who don’t comply.
Catherine Kelly, Rauner’s spokeswoman, said in an email that the governor “has never pushed a social agenda and remains committed to government, economic and education reforms that can turnaround Illinois.”
Terry Horstman, a spokesman for the state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, declined to comment on the suit.
Information from: Rockford Register Star, http://www.rrstar.com