BILL ALERT: Things You Need to Know About SB 1909/HB 2463
A partisan bill sponsored by Democrats in the Illinois House and Senate was passed on 5/11/2023 and was sent to the Governor on 6/9/2023. The bill is designed to reign in the actions of pregnancy help centers while leaving abortion providers with unfair advantages. The governor, a strong pro-choice advocate, will likely sign this bill. The Act shows a callous disregard for human life and a willing acceptance of unequal treatment under the law, which are signature pieces of Democrats – the party of death.
According to Illinois Right to Life Action, the Act’s intent seems to force pregnancy help centers to engage with or refer women for abortions. Ultimately, this could result in the closure of these centers entirely.
The Act specifically targets pregnancy help centers and sidewalk counselors, holding them civilly liable for engaging in deceptive practices by concealing or omitting material facts. However, the language used in the Act is overly broad and fails to provide clear guidance on what constitutes a "material fact." This ambiguity could lead to an unlimited interpretation, potentially forcing pregnancy help centers to provide information on obtaining abortions. This infringes on the right to freedom of speech and violates conscience rights and religious freedom, which the Constitution protects.
Under this Act, the Illinois Attorney General would be granted the authority to initiate a complaint against a pregnancy help center even without a specific complaint. This broad discretion could result in endless investigations, impeding the center's operations and potentially leading to closure. Furthermore, the Attorney General would have the power to request a court order to impound all center records during the investigation.
If a center is found to violate the Act, the penalties include injunctions and civil penalties of up to $50,000. Additionally, the Act establishes a private right of action, allowing any aggrieved party to sue a center for violations. It's worth noting that an aggrieved party does not have to be a client or patient of the center. Furthermore, while the plaintiff in this private lawsuit can recover their attorney fees, the bill does not provide a mechanism for pregnancy help centers to recover their costs when a lawsuit is brought in bad faith.
Unfortunately, this legislation fails to hold pro-choice services to the same standards. It appears that such centers can lie and mislead clients without consequence. This double standard is fundamentally unjust. All counseling services for pregnant women should be provided honestly and without deception. Furthermore, all individuals and organizations should be held accountable for their actions. It is perplexing why there is no corresponding measure to ensure truthfulness and accountability with abortion-promoting counselors and services.
It is worth noting that this bill was brought forth by Democrats and approved along party lines. This partisan support suggests a belief in a double standard. What Democrats don’t seem to understand is that it is essential to approach this controversial issue with objectivity and fairness, focusing on the need for consistent standards across the board.