CHICAGO — A federal court ruled this week that a law the Illinois General Assembly passed and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law last year, the measure will be withheld from enforcement because it restricts free speech rights.
In Wednesday’s order, the federal court wrote, “It is clear that the amended act targets the free speech rights of people who have a specific viewpoint.” The federal court preliminary injunction broadly protects all “healthcare facilities, health care personnel, or physicians who object to providing information about health care providers who may offer abortion or who object to describing abortion as a beneficial treatment option.”
The Federal District Court granted the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) and several pro-life pregnancy centers a preliminary injunction against an Illinois law that forces pro-life healthcare professionals to make abortion referrals. The injunction prohibits the State from enforcing the law against healthcare facilities or physicians who have a conscience objection to performing abortions or making abortion referrals.
In 2016, Illinois amended its Healthcare Right of Conscience Act to require pro-life doctors and medical staff to provide referrals to abortion clinics and to speak of the “benefits” of abortion as a treatment option. Late last year, another group of pregnancy centers obtained an injunction in state court. In its opinion, the state court questioned as to why Illinois would require the very individuals who object to abortion services to become a source of information about them.
Attorney Noel W. Sterett, who represents the Life Center, Inc. and is co-counseling on the case with the Alliance Defending Freedom, said,“The government has no business forcing pro-life doctors and pregnancy care centers in Illinois to operate as referral agents for the abortion industry. A law that targets medical professionals because of their pro-life views and right of conscience is unconstitutional and unethical.”
Mauck & Baker LLC attorney Noel Sterett is one of more than 3,100 private attorneys allied with Alliance Defending Freedom.