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Lawsuit promised if crisis pregnancy center regulatory bill becomes law

Friday, Mar 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* SB1909 synopsis

Prohibits a limited services pregnancy center from engaging in unfair methods of competition or unfair or deceptive acts or practices: (1) to interfere with or prevent an individual from seeking to gain entry or access to a provider of abortion or emergency contraception; (2) to induce an individual to enter or access the limited services pregnancy center; (3) in advertising, soliciting, or otherwise offering pregnancy-related services; or (4) in conducting, providing, or performing pregnancy-related services. Defines terms. Sets forth legislative intent. Effective immediately.

It passed the Senate today and the roll call is here.

* Press release…

State Senator Celina Villanueva’s measure to holds crisis pregnancy centers from using deceptive practices that interfere with women’s health care decisions continues the fight for equal healthcare reproductive rights for women in Illinois.

“The protection of women’s reproductive healthcare rights is something I will continue to put at the forefront of legislation,” said Villanueva D-Chicago). “Pregnancy is a life changing event in a woman’s life and brings up an array of emotions that deserve to be met with care rather than judgement and shame. “Any woman seeking guidance on what she should do when faced with pregnancy, should not be misled, bamboozled, or made to feel like they are doing something wrong for making the best medical decisions for their lives.”

Senate Bill 1909 prohibits the use of deceptive practices to interfere with an individual seeking to gain entry or access to the provider of an abortion or emergency contraceptives, induce an individual to enter a limited services pregnancy center, in advertising, soliciting, or otherwise offering pregnancy-related services, or in providing pregnancy-related services.

While crisis pregnancy centers may advertise themselves as health care clinics, many of these facilities provide very limited services, such as basic ultrasounds and counseling intended to discourage and limit access to abortion. Some centers are located near clinics that provide comprehensive reproductive health care and use names similar to these clinics in order to misdirect patients. Many provide misleading information overstating the risks associated with abortion, including conveying false claims that abortion causes cancer or infertility.

“Crisis pregnancy centers will often look like an abortion clinic, but often these professionals are not licensed and do not have licensed staff that can carry out proper medical procedures that will benefit women in need,” said Villanueva. “Deceptive practices can cause more harm than help and we need hold those who are at fault responsible for the mental, physical and emotion stress they are causing women all across the state.”

Senate Bill 1909 passed in the Senate and is headed to the House for further consideration.

Some provided audio is here.

* AG Raoul…

Attorney General Kwame Raoul applauded the Senate’s passage of his legislation to hold crisis pregnancy centers that engage in deceptive practices accountable.

Illinois law establishes the fundamental rights of individuals to make autonomous decisions about their reproductive health. There have been reports in Illinois and nationwide of limited services pregnancy centers, often referred to as “crisis pregnancy centers,” using deceptive and misleading practices to spread false information and interfere with patients’ timely access to the full range of reproductive care.

“I experienced deceptive crisis pregnancy center tactics firsthand on a visit to a Planned Parenthood health center in Illinois. People who appeared as though they might work there were outside attempting to divert us away from the health center,” Raoul said. “Patients report going to crisis pregnancy centers – sometimes even receiving exams and ultrasounds – thinking they were visiting a different clinic that offers the full range of reproductive care. This is an extreme violation of trust and patient privacy that should not occur in our state. I would like to thank members of the Senate for passing legislation to help my office hold those engaging in deceptive practices accountable.”

Senate Bill 1909, sponsored by Sen. Celina Villanueva, was approved by the Senate and will now be considered by the House.

“There is a war on people’s ability to make informed decisions about their reproductive health care,” said Sen. Villanueva. “Workers at crisis pregnancy centers should not be able to deceptively mislead women into making decisions that aren’t the best for them or their futures. When you go to the doctor and someone appears to be medical staff, you trust they are medical staff. You trust your ability to make autonomous, informed, evidence-based decisions. Reproductive health care should be no different.”

The mission of most crisis pregnancy centers is to convince pregnant people to carry to term and not have an abortion. While crisis pregnancy centers may advertise their services generally to pregnant people, many of these centers offer very limited services, such as basic ultrasounds and counseling against abortion. Many provide misleading information overstating the risks associated with abortion, including conveying false claims that abortion causes cancer or infertility.

Some are located near clinics that do provide comprehensive reproductive care and use names similar to clinics to misdirect patients from the full range of information and care that it is their right to access. Crisis pregnancy centers do not provide abortions or referrals for abortions. Many do not provide contraceptives or comprehensive prenatal care. They often do not have any medical professionals on site, and they do not necessarily disclose any of these limitations in their online or in-person materials. They also may not keep medical records and personal information private and confidential.

In addition to initiating SB 1909, Attorney General Raoul offered recommendations to patients seeking reproductive care to ensure they can access the full range of health services. Patients should check to be certain that they are entering the correct facility because crisis pregnancy centers may be located near abortion clinics and use similar names to divert women away from abortion providers. They should also make sure the facility they plan to visit offers the full range of reproductive care options if that is what they seek.

* Jennifer Welch, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Illinois Action…

“We applaud the Illinois Senate for passing Senate Bill 1909. This bill holds anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) accountable for deceiving and misinforming people as they are trying to receive reproductive health care. For decades, CPCs have systematically employed deception, fraud, and false pretense to get people in their doors with the goal of denying them abortion access. Often CPCs pose as legitimate health care organizations yet do not have licensed medical staff or follow privacy laws. Thank you to State Senator Celina Villanueva for sponsoring this important legislation. We encourage the Illinois House to pass the bill. If this is signed into law, individuals can file complaints and the Illinois Attorney General will be able to bring legal action against CPCs for their harmful and deceptive practices.”

* Thomas More Society…

“Senate Bill 1909 is a radical attempt to silence and chill the speech of pro-life advocates in Illinois,” stated Peter Breen, former Illinois state legislator and the Executive Vice President and Head of Litigation for the Thomas More Society. “The bill is presented as a ‘consumer protection’ measure, but its purpose is to protect abortion clinics from competition—the supporters of this bill object to pro-life organizations’ highly successful efforts to convince abortion clinic customers to choose life for their children, instead of aborting them. By exempting pro-abortion speech and applying an opaque floating standard against pro-life speech, the bill directly and illegally targets Illinois’ pro-life organizations for civil injunctions and tens of thousands of dollars in fines. This bill is flagrantly unconstitutional, and if it becomes law, we will immediately file suit to protect pro-life organizations’ right to free speech.”

       

23 Comments
  1. - /s - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 2:34 pm:

    Bring it on. While anecdotal, I know of many horror stories from these centers, including but not limited to lying to women about how far along they are, lying about the fetus’s ability to feel pain, violating confidentiality, and so on.

    And, of course, as more and more desperate women turn to Illinois as a last resort, these clinics can cause women even more trauma than what they’re already dealing with.

    I had hoped a previous iteration of this bill would’ve been rolled into the abortion omnibus bill in the fall, but I’ll happily take the stand alone version.


  2. - ArchPundit - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 2:51 pm:

    Regulating medical care is not a free speech issue. You can say whatever you want, but when you dress it up as medical care you have entered commerce and police powers apply.


  3. - Chicago Republican - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 2:55 pm:

    SB 1909 will hurt low income women. Crisis Pregnancy Centers provide Car Seats, diapers, formula, wipes, and various other tangible support to low income women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. Why target these centers with fines and lawsuits simply because they have a different view on the abortion issue? Pro-Life, low income women have unplanned pregnancies, and they do not want to engage with Planned Parenthood because of their reputation. Why the Democratic Majority wants to take resources away from low income women I cannot fathom. Why would Dems want to do that to low income women of any political party?


  4. - Perrid - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:05 pm:

    I actually lean towards the Republicans views on this, minus most of the rhetoric. But the state deciding what’s “deceptive” seems like a bad idea to me. And I just have to laugh at this blatant lie from the end of the legislative intent section

    “It is not the intention of this Act to regulate, limit, or curtail the ability to counsel against abortion if an organization and its agents are otherwise operating in compliance with the law.”

    It’s just funny to me that they’re lying in a bill that purports to be about stopping liars.


  5. - Norseman - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:05 pm:

    The issue is deception (a major characteristic of right-wing organizations). Brief thoughts, although I haven’t read nor do I plan to invest the time to read the bill. Properly constructed it should withstand litigation. Prohibit deception, require notice to patients, but don’t closed a abortion opponents’ crisis centers unless caught in deception. Medical services by these centers should be governed by existing licensing laws.


  6. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:07 pm:

    “I know of many horror stories”…full stop.


  7. - ArchPundit - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:20 pm:

    ==SB 1909 will hurt low income women. Crisis Pregnancy Centers provide Car Seats, diapers, formula, wipes, and various other tangible support to low income women experiencing an unplanned pregnant

    They can do all that by honestly stating they are not health care providers. They are lying that they are a health care provider.


  8. - ArchPundit - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:20 pm:

    ====I actually lean towards the Republicans views on this, minus most of the rhetoric. But the state deciding what’s “deceptive” seems like a bad idea to me.

    So we should get rid of the FDA? Got it.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:20 pm:

    ===Why the Democratic Majority wants to take resources away from low income women I cannot fathom.===

    Where were you during the Rauner years.

    Physician heal thyself


  10. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:24 pm:

    ===It’s just funny to me that they’re lying===

    Explain clearly what “providing” is in relation to health.


  11. - Demoralized - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:28 pm:

    ==they do not want to engage with Planned Parenthood because of their reputation==

    Planned Parenthood provides a variety of services. They only have a “reputation” as you call it because of the anti-choice crusade against them. Don’t poke the bear if you can’t take the result.


  12. - 48th Ward Heel - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:29 pm:

    -Chicago Republican-

    What’s stopping you from contributing material aid to low-income women without luring them away from a real healthcare clinic or “having a view on abortion?” Your boy from Thomas More already gave away the game that that’s not the point.


  13. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:30 pm:

    ===a radical attempt to silence and chill the speech of pro-life advocates in Illinois===

    I think the 1st Amendment argument goes away when it becomes a service that is being provided to others.

    ===but its purpose is to protect abortion clinics from competition===

    I think they’re going to have a tough time when their public statements also suggest that they are offering services that compete with those provided by licensed medical professionals in a licensed medical clinic.

    What kind of services are they offering that “compete” with medical services provided by someone else?

    === By exempting pro-abortion speech and applying an opaque floating standard against pro-life speech===

    Practicing medicine really isn’t speech. We’ve been regulating this for more than a century. Their argument really needs to be that they’re not practicing medicine and they’re not competing with abortion clinics.

    Whoever wrote this press release and whoever approved it should not be allowed to write another one.


  14. - /s - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:31 pm:

    ===Why would Dems want to do that===

    You’re telling on yourself if these centers will choose to no longer provide car seats, diapers, formula, wipes, etc., to low income women if they can no longer masquerade as medical centers.


  15. - Mason born - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:33 pm:

    There is a 2018 Supreme Court case on this. Right to Life of Central California vs Bonta. Ruling went against Bonta/California. The Crisis Pregnancy Centers won on free speech grounds. Implementation may be a big factor here.


  16. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:33 pm:

    ===They only have a “reputation” as you call it because of the anti-choice crusade against them.===

    Ball Game.

    The word choice of crusade is well done.

    I guess providing safe and easy healthcare is dangerous?

    Prolly why Republicans are seen as dangerous to women’s health.

    You can’t pray away medical care, and prayer isn’t providing medical care, unless the snake charmers are now licensed medical folks since I last “checked” (there’s been no need to check)


  17. - Norseman - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:42 pm:

    Oops. The anonymous comment on 3:39 pm was from me.


  18. - Rich Miller - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:43 pm:

    ===was from me. ===

    Too late.

    Oops.


  19. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:45 pm:

    ===Why the Democratic Majority wants to take resources away from low income women I cannot fathom.===

    Withholding help for those you seemingly pretend to care about “unless”…

    That’s the tell too.

    “We want them to suffer, unless”

    I dunno how God-ly that is, but it’s likely something that isn’t found in any Bible.


  20. - Cosgrove - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 4:27 pm:

    These so-called CPCs are dangerous and deceptive. They frequently tell a woman she is 3-4 weeks pregnant when in fact she is 8-9 weeks pregnant in order to intentionally push her into the 2nd trimester, making the abortion less accessible, more dangerous and more expensive. These people are the defintion of evil.


  21. - Politix - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 4:31 pm:

    If you have to trick vulnerable women to lure them into your “crisis center,” you’re not helping.


  22. - Ruth Dakin - Monday, Apr 3, 23 @ 9:12 am:

    === By exempting pro-abortion speech and applying an opaque floating standard against pro-life speech ===

    Republicans in some states have regulated if and how physicians can talk to patients about the number one killer of American children: guns. Just trying to parse out what is “free-speech” versus medical advice. To that point, since when do we allow any organization to provide “medical” advice without proper licensure?

    ===Why the Democratic Majority wants to take resources away from low-income women I cannot fathom.===

    Why the Republican Majority wants to trick and coerce a woman into continuing a pregnancy she does not want I cannot fathom. If a CPC operates honestly and ethically, this law will not stop it from operating, and it can continue to help pregnant women, not control them.


  23. - Twitter cat lady - Monday, Apr 3, 23 @ 2:11 pm:

    - Mason born -

    Thanks for the reference, I looked it up.

    SB 742 failed unpart because it was not “narrowly tailored to serve
    compelling state interests”
    How much more narrowly do you think one could tailer a bill to survive a first amendment challenge while still protecting people from medical deception?


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