ROCKFORD, Ill. — Crisis pregnancy centers in northern Illinois have filed a federal lawsuit saying 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 reports the lawsuit against Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and Bryan A. Schneider, secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, was filed Thursday.
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 lawsuit says the centers are religious, anti-abortion organizations. It says an Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act amendment, which goes into effect Jan. 1, requires them to share procedure locations to women inquiring about abortion.
The provision takes effect on Jan. 1 and requires health care providers with a “conscience-based objection” to have protocols in place by then for giving patients information about — or referrals to — other health care providers who will discuss or offer such services.
“The government shouldn’t be putting messages in people’s mouths,” Noel Sterett, an attorney for the centers, said this week.
Catherine Kelly, a spokeswoman for Rauner, stated in an email tonight: “Governor Rauner has never pushed a social agenda and remains committed to government, economic and education reforms that can turnaround Illinois.”
Sterett said the conservative Christian legal firm Alliance Defending Freedom and the Chicago firm for which he works are handling the case. He said no hearing has yet been scheduled in the case, but that it could come within 60 days.