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Illinois Halts Enforcement of Illegal Pro-Life Speech Restrictions

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Illinois has decided to suspend the enforcement of a contentious law that imposed speech and advertising restrictions on pro-life crisis pregnancy centers. The move comes after a lawsuit challenging the law's constitutionality on First Amendment and other grounds. 

Photo credit: JLA

Photo credit: JLA

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
12/12/2023 (7 months ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: Illinois, Pro-life, First Amendment, Lawsuit, Abortion Access, Reproductive Rights

Attorney General Kwame Raoul consented to a court order on December 11, enforcing a permanent injunction against the legislation. This injunction prevents the state from enforcing the law, which had been temporarily halted by a judge pending the outcome of the legal challenge.

The law, now rendered ineffective, introduced new restrictions within the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. Notably, these restrictions exclusively targeted pro-life pregnancy centers, explicitly exempting organizations that perform abortions. The regulations impacted advertisements and interactions with clients, aiming to prevent what it defined as "deceptive practices" related to surgical and chemical abortions.

Peter Breen, head of litigation for the Thomas More Society, a Catholic law firm representing the pro-life pregnancy centers, expressed satisfaction with the permanent injunction. Breen stated, "This law is just one of a number of illegal new laws enacted across the country that restrict pro-life speech â€" we hope this permanent injunction, with full attorney†s fees, serves as a warning to other states that would seek to follow Illinois and try to silence pro-life viewpoints."

The law, now defunct, failed to specify the information pro-life pregnancy centers needed to convey to potential clients and did not clearly define what constituted a "misrepresentation" related to abortion. The lawsuit argued that the vagueness of the law violated the 14th Amendment right to due process and that its selective targeting of pro-life pregnancy centers breached the equal protection clause. Additionally, the centers contended that the law infringed upon the First Amendment by attempting to stifle pro-life speech.

Provisions within the law suggested that pro-life pregnancy centers were alleged to misrepresent facts and dissuade individuals from obtaining abortions through "deceptive, fraudulent, and misleading information and practice." Violations of the law could result in fines of up to $50,000 for these centers.

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