Illinois files answers to challenge against blocked pregnancy center law



(The Center Square) – While denying many of the allegations in the lawsuit against the state’s pregnancy center law, the Illinois Attorney General’s office claims the law should stand because of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.

Senate Bill 1909, as signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in July, allows the Illinois Attorney General to shut down pregnancy resource centers in Illinois if they’re found to conduct deceptive practices.

The Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit to block the law. The plaintiffs claim the law is in violation of the First Amendment and that it targets those with different beliefs than those held by the AG’s office.

Judge Iain Johnson said in his decision released last month to temporarily block the law that the measure was “both stupid and very likely unconstitutional.” The AG’s office has not appealed the preliminary injunction.

“Well, I am not the one who takes that on,” Pritzker told The Center Square last month when asked if he will appeal the injunction. “That is the job of the Attorney General, and I do not know. He has not informed me of what his plans are for that.”

The AG’s office did not return messages asking if they plan to appeal the injunction.

In a 62-page response filed last week from the Illinois Attorney General’s office to the plaintiffs’ claims, the state agreed laws should not limit free speech. However, the AG’s office said this measure does not do that and is protected under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act.

State law prohibits the use of any deception, fraud, false pretenses or promises, concealment, suppression, or omission of any fact that is material to a business dealing or transaction.

“Senate Bill 1909 is about clarifying that the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act that applies to many businesses applies to crisis pregnancy centers as well,” Raoul said when the law was signed. “This bill is intended to protect the individuals to access the full range of reproductive healthcare and make fully informed decisions including the right to use or refuse reproductive healthcare.”

Illinois Right to Life’s Ralph Rivera said the AG’s response offers no reasoning for their claims.

“The defendant denies the allegations, but they did not go into why they are denying them,” Rivera told The Center Square. “It seems as if they chose not to defend their law. They did not state why this law would be constitutional.”

The most common answer in the AG’s response is “the defendant denies the remaining allegations.”

“The plaintiffs say this, but we [the defendants] say this is what makes it constitutional, but they do not do that,” Rivera said. “They just say we deny the allegations. Well, what kind of answer is that?”

A status hearing by phone in the case National Institute of Family Life Advocates et al v. Raoul is set for Oct. 23.



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