On August 4, 2023, U.S. District Court Judge Iain D. Johnston issued a preliminary injunction against SB 1909—halting enforcement of Illinois' law as the case continues forward. In his order granting the preliminary injunction, Judge Johnston wrote:
SB 1909 is both stupid and very likely unconstitutional. It is stupid because its own supporter admitted it was unneeded and was unsupported by evidence when challenged. It is likely unconstitutional because it is a blatant example of government taking the side of whose speech is sanctionable and whose speech is immunized—on the very same subject no less. SB 1909 is likely classic content and viewpoint discrimination prohibited by the First Amendment.
Thomas More Society is suing Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to halt the enforcement of Illinois Senate Bill 1909, enacted as Public Act 103-0270—a new state law that declares pro-life speech to be a “deceptive business practice.” This law tramples the free speech and religious exercise rights of pro-life pregnancy help centers and sidewalk counselors across Illinois.
Thomas More Society is representing the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), along with several local pregnancy help centers and sidewalk counseling organizations, including the Pro-Life Action League and Rockford Family Initiative.
NIFLA has 81 pregnancy center members across the Land of Lincoln, 60 of which provide medical services under the supervision of medical directors, who are licensed Illinois medical physicians. The Plaintiffs are all religious organizations motivated by their sincerely held religious beliefs to provide accurate information about abortion and the unborn and to assist women in most need of help.
SB 1909, signed into law July 27, 2023, by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, targets pregnancy help ministries by labeling their constitutionally protected speech—but not abortion facilities’ speech—as so-called “deceptive business practices,” on account of their pro-life viewpoint. It also expressly exempts licensed healthcare providers and hospitals from its restrictions.
In short, the law openly targets alleged pro-life “misinformation” on the basis that that pro-life views conflict with Illinois’s rampant pro-abortion ideology. But in doing so the law runs headlong into bedrock protections of the First Amendment, which prohibit government from cutting off one side of ongoing controversies by censoring speech with which it disagrees, and from discriminating against religiously motivated speech. The “Deceptive Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers Act” is a blatant attempt to stamp out access to vital women’s pregnancy resources across the state, simply because pregnancy help centers do not provide abortions and “emergency contraception.”