Thomas More Society’s Pro-Life Doctors, Pregnancy Centers Protected from Required Abortion Referrals

Federal Court Halts Illinois Abortion Mandate

Thomas OlpOn July, 21, 2017, Thomas More Society has stepped into the fray over recent Illinois conscience legislation by suing Illinois state officials on behalf of over twenty pro-life pregnancy resource centers and pro-life physicians. The litigation is over P.A. 99-690, also known as SB 1564, an Illinois law which forces pregnancy care centers and doctors to promote abortion regardless of their ethical or moral views. Enforcement of that mandate has now been halted by a federal court.  A July 19, 2017 preliminary injunction order by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois declared that P.A. 99-690, “targets the free speech rights of people who have a specific viewpoint.”

The preliminary injunction was issued in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates et al v. Rauner et al and is a general prohibition on enforcement of the law in Illinois.  It thereby provides the same relief for the plaintiffs in the Thomas More Society case, Dr. Ronald L. Schroeder et al v. Rauner et al., and in consolidated state actions the Thomas More Society filed in Sangamon County, IL earlier this year.  These cases are continuing since the preliminary injunction order will be superseded by a permanent order when the case has been finally adjudicated.

Thomas Olp, an attorney for the Thomas More Society, explained that the suspended law is actually an amendment to the existing Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act. According to both cases, it violates federal law and the U.S. Constitution. “Our clients, which include Dr. Ronald L. Schroeder, 1st Way Life Center, and Pregnancy Aid South Suburbs, and around twenty other pregnancy centers in Illinois, provide pro bono medical care, emotional and material resources to women in crisis pregnancy situations. Their efforts are inspired by their religious faith, which precludes them from counseling about the supposed benefits of abortion or referring clients to abortion providers. This now suspended law required them to do just that, and could have exposed them to discrimination, sanctions, and liability if they did not comply. We are pleased that the court saw fit to prohibit enforcement of this unconstitutional law.”

Read the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois preliminary injunction Order issued July 19, 2017 in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates et al v. Rauner et al here.

Read the Dr. Ronald L. Schroeder et al v. Rauner et al. Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief filed by the Thomas More Society in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois on March 16, 2017, here.