An international pro-life pregnancy care center umbrella group is urging Illinois pregnancy centers to defy a new state law requiring them to participate in abortions, even as those centers and others file suit against the law.
In a letter quoted in part by Heartbeat International news publication Pregnancy Help News (PHN), Heartbeat President Jor-El Godsey said this week Illinois’ Senate Bill (SB) 1564 is a “direct assault on our pro-life, pro-health and pro-woman values [that] cannot be allowed to stand.” According to Godsey, “To violate this major tenet of our life-affirming outreach, even if compelled by the government, represents an undeniable breach of ethics. To bow the knee to the state is to deny the very foundation of our mission.”
Signed by pro-abortion Republican Governor Bruce Rauner this past July and scheduled to go into effect January 2017, SB 1564 requires pro-life centers to promote, and at times participate in, helping women to get abortions.
From the law:
(3) If requested by the patient or the legal representative of the patient, the health care facility, physician, or health care personnel shall: (i) refer the patient to, or (ii) transfer the patient to, or (iii) provide in writing information to the patient about other health care providers who they reasonably believe may offer the health care service the health care facility, physician, or health personnel refuses to permit, perform, or participate in because of a conscience-based objection.
Lawsuit Filed Against SB 1564
Godsey’s letter came as the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit against Rauner on behalf of “multiple pregnancy care centers, a pregnancy care center network, and a doctor and her medical practice,” according to a press release from ADF. ADF attorney Matt Bowman accused the governor of violating both state and federal law.
No state should attempt to rob women of the freedom to choose a pro-life doctor, but that is the choice that Illinois is eliminating by mandating that pro-life physicians and entities make or arrange abortion referrals. To make matters worse, the state did this by amending a law designed specifically to protect freedom of conscience.
As our lawsuit explains, the law is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution and both federal and state law, which protect citizens from being forced by the government to live and act in a way contrary to their faith and conscience.
As The Stream has previously reported, the ACLU backed SB 1564, saying before Rauner signed the legislation that “the Illinois House passed a bill that protects all patients, including women, ensuring they at the very least will have complete information about their health condition, rather than being sent home and denied information based on the hospital’s religious beliefs…” …
“It is imperative we make a stand against such political malfeasance,” Godsey said. “Today, in the U.S., and in Illinois, the Constitution affirms our right of conscience and free speech to champion life and life everlasting. This is the very case that may be used to deny those rights.”
[1 October 2016, Dustin Siggins, https://stream.org/pregnancy-care-centers-sue-illinois-gov/ ]