The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) recently filed lawsuits in Illinois and Vermont to stop those states from enforcing new legislation that limits the free speech of pregnancy resource centers.
In Illinois, the Thomas More Society is representing the NIFLA in response to the Deceptive Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers Act (SB 1909). The NIFLA, via a press release, said, “The State of Illinois has put a target on the back of every client, staff, and volunteer of the state’s life-affirming reproductive health facilities.”
Pregnancy Centers are Giving Hope to Vermont Women and Families
The law grants the Attorney General “the right to penalize a crisis pregnancy center if it appears that it has engaged in, is engaging in, or was about to engage in [a deceptive] method, act, or practice.”
“This law is a blatant attempt to chill and silence pro-life speech under the guise of ‘consumer protection,’” said Peter Breen, Thomas More Society Executive Vice President and Head of Litigation, and a former Illinois State Legislator. “Pregnancy help ministries provide real options and assistance to women and families in need, but instead of the praise they deserve, pro-abortion politicians are targeting these ministries with $50,000 fines and injunctions solely because of their pro-life viewpoint.”
The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and permanent injunction against SB 1909. If temporary and preliminary injunctions are granted, they would prevent the law from being enforced while the case makes its way through the court system.
“The state government has completely overstepped the bounds of any logical and relevant authority by inserting insane partisan politics into their governing bodies and attempting to trample the First Amendment rights of those with whom they disagree,” said Thomas Glessner, President of NIFLA. “There is no basis for their blatant attacks on pregnancy centers, who provide all of their services for free for women and their families throughout Illinois.”
NIFLA, a religious nonprofit that provides pro-life pregnancy center members with legal resources and counsel, represents over 1,600 organizations across the nation.
In Vermont, Alliance Defending Freedom filed on behalf on the NIFLA and two pregnancy centers regarding SB 37, which, impedes the ability of pro-life pregnancy centers to continue providing help and support to Vermont women and families. According to the ADF, the law censors the pregnancy centers’ ability to advertise their services and precludes the ability of centers to offer even non-medical services, information, and counseling unless provided by a licensed health care provider.
The Vermont legislation could have severe implications for pregnancy centers that offer abortion pill reversal, according to an article at Lifenews.com. “Vermont’s law plainly classifies offering abortion pill reversal, which has documented successes, as ‘unprofessional conduct’ that can result in ‘denial of a license or other disciplinary action.’”
ADF Legal Counsel Julia Payne said, “Women who become unexpectedly pregnant should be empowered with life-affirming options, emotional support, and practical resources.”
“Vermont’s law, however, does the opposite—it impedes women’s ability to receive critical services during a difficult time in their lives and suppresses the free-speech rights of faith-based pregnancy centers. Pregnancy centers should be free to serve women and offer the support they need without fear of unjust government punishment.”