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Published On: Wed, Jun 27th, 2018

Thomas More Society praises SCOTUS ruling for pro-life pregnancy center, hopes it will end Illinois case

The United States Supreme Court decision is a victory for pro-life pregnancy centers, granting them the right to offer lifesaving options to pregnant women without being forced to make abortion referrals, as some states have mandated.

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Thomas Olp, Vice President and Senior Counsel for the Thomas More Society, reacted to today’s ruling in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, “We are pleased that the Supreme Court did as they should and upheld the First Amendment rights of pro-life counselors, doctors and other medical personnel. California’s state law, like the one we’ve been fighting in Illinois, has illegally discriminated against them for their viewpoint, and mandated speech, which is a clear violation of Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms.”

Attorneys with the Thomas More Society had filed an amici (friends of the court) brief in the case on behalf of 23 Illinois pregnancy centers in the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates lawsuit against California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Unlike California pregnancy centers, those in Illinois have been under court protection from the law that forces them to make referrals for abortion, even if they have sincerely held religious convictions against doing so. The preliminary injunction order was issued in July 2017 by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Rauner.

“The Illinois district court’s injunction is based on the Supreme Court’s well-established Free Speech principles, which were largely disregarded in the California case” added Olp. “We are pleased that the high court has chosen to protect pro-life medical professionals from California’s Reproductive FACT Act. This unconstitutional and unethical mandate to promote the so called ‘benefits’ of abortion and to refer women to abortion vendors has been a clear violation of the right of conscience of pro-life doctors, nurses and pregnancy help centers.”

Nonprofit pro-life pregnancy centers are established to support and assist women by providing life-affirming alternatives to abortion and the Thomas More Society brief argued that a woman has a right to choose life for her unborn child.

“Under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment these centers cannot be required to agree with or be compelled to promote any state’s message concerning abortion,” said Olp. “They have the right to offer charitable services and proclaim an exclusively pro-life message to those in need. The Supreme Court has now shut down laws like California’s Reproductive FACT Act and the amended Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act that deny women their ability to receive free pregnancy support and their right to choose life for their child.”

Like their California counterparts, the 23 Illinois pregnancy centers named in the brief work to ensure that women are not burdened by fear, financial concerns, or lack of information about their pregnancy. In 2017, the groups listed in the amici filing cumulatively provided over 14,000 women with free pregnancy services and support including free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, parenting classes, baby clothes and other material assistance.

Read the background on the Thomas More Society’s work on National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerrahere [https://www.thomasmoresociety.org/illinois-pregnancy-centers-unite-support-california-counterparts/]

About the Thomas More Society

The Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago and Omaha, the Thomas More Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. For more information, visit thomasmoresociety.org.

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