A 2016 Illinois law mandates that pro-life doctors and pregnancy centers must not only refer patients for abortions but also talk about the alleged benefits.
“This law is really about the government of Illinois attempting to coerce individuals who are medical professionals and pro-life pregnancy centers, to compel them to say something that violates their deeply held religious convictions regarding life,” said Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Kevin Theriot.
The law has been on hold since a year after it passed while pro-lifers pursue a legal challenge. After six long years, they finally had their day in court before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Theriot told CBN News it’s time to put the issue to rest once and for all.
“There’s no baseline thing that requires medical professionals who have a conscientious objection to abortion to talk about its benefits or refer people for it, and that would violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Theriot said.
Similar laws have been challenged in other states, and Theriot points out the Supreme Court already set a precedent for this back in 2018, with National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra.
“It’s really the same question, and that is whether the government can target an individual because of their religious convictions and make them violate those religious convictions. And so we’re cautiously optimistic that this Court is going to agree with NIFLA v. Becerra and say that that’s binding,” Theriot said.
He considers this case about both free speech and religious freedom, and on multiple occasions, the High Court has held that an individual can’t be compelled to say something that violates their deepest convictions.
The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment also says the government can’t target you because of your religious beliefs.
A ruling on this case is expected by early next year. In the meantime, the injunction halting enforcement of the law still stands.