A federal court has issued an injunction to stop the state of Illinois from enforcing a new law requiring pregnancy centers and doctors to refer patients to abortion providers.
On Wednesday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued an injunction to stop the enforcement of SB 1564, which requires health care personnel who have conscience-based objections to certain health services to inform patients of their legal options and refer them to facilities that provide such services.
In September, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and allied attorneys filed a federal suit challenging the law on behalf of multiple pregnancy care centers, a pregnancy care center network, and a doctor and her medical practice.
The plaintiffs argued that the new law would their belief prohibit them from referring patients to abortions providers, saying it would implicate them in the destruction of human life. They contended that requiring them to do so would violate their constitutional free speech protections.
"The government is out of line when it attempts to force Americans to communicate a message that is contrary to their most deeply held beliefs," said ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves, according to Life News.
"In addition, the state shouldn't be robbing women of the freedom to choose a pro-life doctor by mandating that pro-life physicians and entities make or arrange abortion referrals. The court was right to halt enforcement of this law while our lawsuit proceeds," she added.
Attorneys for the defendants, Gov. Bruce Rauner and Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Secretary Bryan Schneider, argued that Illinois law already requires health care providers to give information about relevant treatment options to their patients.
According to The Daily Signal, Illinois amended its Healthcare Right of Conscience Act in 2016 to allow pro-life medical professionals to be held liable to civil penalties for refusing to provide counsel on the supposed benefits of abortions and refer their patients directly to local abortion providers. A judge has previously granted a preliminary injunction to exempt three pregnancy centers from the law.
Similar attempts to enact laws that would have required pro-life pregnancy centers to refer patients to abortion providers have been struck down in New York City; Austin, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; and Montgomery County, Maryland.
Pro-life pregnancy centers in California and Hawaii have also filed lawsuits to challenge laws that require them to provide advertising for state-funded abortions and contraception coverage programs.