Attorney weighs in on case challenging Illinois’ abortion referral requirements

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(The Center Square) – An attorney from a case challenging Illinois abortion referral requirements says the law the group is challenging is unconstitutional.

The new case challenges the 2016 Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act amendment, which attempts to force medical and counseling personnel to promote abortion regardless of their ethical or moral views.

The Thomas More Society filed the lawsuit, which was heard in a Rockford federal court last week. Executive president Thomas Olp, explained the group’s stance.

“This law targets pro-life physicians and pregnancy centers, which do not refer for abortion, and whose pro-life mission is to advise clients of abortion alternatives such as parenting and adoption. But the law forces center personnel to discuss supposed benefits of abortion with clients and, upon request, to refer them to an abortion provider or give information about such providers,” Olp told The Center Square. “This law only targets those who, like our clients, conscientiously oppose discussing so-called benefits of abortion and referring for abortion and leaves non-conscientious objectors unregulated.”

The Thomas More Society claims the law is unconstitutional.

“The question is, is this compelled speech against the First Amendment or not,” Olp asked. “If it falls within the standard of care, then it is not compelled speech. If it falls outside of it, it is compelled speech, and we would win.”

According to Olp, the law seeks to silence those with different beliefs than the state.

“Our clients view this as a nefarious attempt by the abortion industry to protect its abortion business by silencing pro-life physicians and pregnancy resource centers that, without a profit motive, try to convince pregnant women to choose life for their unborn child, not abortion,” Olp told The Center Square.

A decision is not expected until the end of the year.

“We are going to file briefs in this case this fall, and we are trying to figure out when that will be. Then there may be a decision by the end of the year,” Olp said.

The Thomas More Society is also currently challenging another case involving Senate Bill 1909, which allows the Illinois Attorney General to shut down pregnancy resource centers in Illinois if they’re found to conduct deceptive practices. The society filed a lawsuit to block the law.

The plaintiffs claim that the law is also in violation of the First Amendment and that it targets those with different beliefs than beliefs held by the Attorney General’s office.

Judge Iain Johnston, who will oversee both cases, said in his decision released last month to temporarily block the shut-down law that the measure was “both stupid and very likely unconstitutional.”

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