Judge blocks new Illinois law allowing state to penalize anti-abortion counseling centers

Rockford, Ill.: A federal judge has blocked a new Illinois law that allows the state to penalize anti-abortion counseling centers if they use deception to interfere with patients seeking the procedure.

U.S. District Judge Iain Johnston said last Thursday the new law “is painfully and blatantly a violation of the First Amendment.”

The law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week bans anti-abortion counseling centers, often referred to as “crisis pregnancy centers,” from using “misinformation, deceptive practices, or misrepresentation” to interfere with access to abortion services or emergency contraception. Violators faced fines of up to $50,000.

The bill was championed by Attorney General Kwame Raoul. The law allows the state Office of the Attorney General to investigate complaints against anti-abortion centers using questionable tactics and strengthens the attorney general’s authority to prosecute incidents of consumer fraud in such cases.

Pritzker said he’s confident the law will ultimately be upheld.

“I’m disappointed that the far-right is interfering with the ability for women to access safe medical care without deception or lies,” Pritzker said in a statement.

Johnston heard more than four hours of testimony from anti-abortion advocates during an emergency hearing last Thursday afternoon. They said the law has threatened their rights to free speech and expression and their ability to distribute literature that identifies alternatives to abortion.

Image courtesy of Chicago Tribune

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