Illinois governor signs bill mandating abortion referrals

Abortion | The Republican’s action frustrates the state’s pro-life groups, who say it won’t survive a legal challenge
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 8/03/16, 11:17 am

New legislation signed Friday by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, will compel all medical practitioners and pregnancy centers to promote abortion regardless of their religious or moral convictions. The new law has rattled state and national pro-life advocates because the governor acted against his party’s pro-life platform by signing the bill.

Senate Bill 1564 is an amendment to the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act that now mandates pro-life medical providers and pregnancy centers either refer their patients to abortion providers or provide them with a list of abortion centers. The pro-life centers also must counsel patients on what it calls the “benefits” of abortion.

Rauner had the power to veto the bill but approved it instead.

“We are extremely disappointed in Gov. Rauner for siding with pro-abortion Democrats by signing SB 1564 and expanding abortions in Illinois,” Emily Zender, executive director of Illinois Right to Life, said in a statement. “This radical bill is a direct assault on the consciences of medical professionals and the missions of community-supported pregnancy help centers.”

The state House passed the bill in May by a 61-54 margin, and it will go into effect Jan. 1. While the bill mandates pro-life healthcare workers promote abortion, it does not specify whether the healthcare providers and nonprofits can counsel patients on alternatives to abortion such as adoption or parenting, according to LifeSiteNews.

Illinois Right to Life submitted to the governor more than 6,000 signatures opposing the bill. The state is home to some 51 nonprofit pregnancy centers that offer free services like ultrasound and testing for sexually transmitted infections. Several state-level and national pro-life groups, including Americans United for Life, Thomas More Society, and Heartbeat International, also expressed their disapproval of the legislation.

“This is sad and tragic news,” Ann Scheidler, vice-president of Illinois-based Pro-Life Action League, said in a written statement. “The pro-life pregnancy centers should be protected from giving exactly the advice that goes against everything they stand for. They will not do it.”

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) said in May it would challenge the bill in court if it became law. The Christian legal group sent a letter to the governor before he signed the bill, saying the legislation violated federal law and threatened federal Medicaid reimbursements. ADF also noted courts previously struck down similar legislation passed in Austin, Texas, Baltimore and Montgomery County, Maryland, and New York City.

“Alliance Defending Freedom has represented multiple pro-life pregnancy help organizations in federal lawsuits in which we have obtained court orders against laws that attempted to force the pregnancy center to recite the government’s messages,” the letter said.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.

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  • Graced
    Posted: Wed, 08/03/2016 11:34 am

    Tell me again how we are supposed to vote for Trump because of his Supreme Court nominees? When Republicans are signing bills like this, how can I trust Republicans to veto Court nominees that agree with Roe V. Wade? 

    The life issue has moved to one of changing hearts and minds, seeking to make abortion "unthinkable, not merely illegal" as John Stonestreet says. There is no major party that has moral high ground on this issue, and it further puts a nail in the coffin of me defaulting to Republicans because of the issue of life. 

    I'll consider candidates on other issues that I care about now. This won't be a deciding factor because it no. longer. matters. to. them.

  • socialworker
    Posted: Wed, 08/03/2016 11:47 am

    Who is he trying to please by signing this?  Does he just want to avoid the political attacks that'll follow if he doesn't?  We keep laying down and we decrease our chances of every standing up again. 

  •  Deb O's picture
    Deb O
    Posted: Wed, 08/03/2016 10:18 pm

    If that isn't Orwellian I don't know what is.  The Health Care Right of Conscience Act ... it's unconscionable.

  • JQ
    Posted: Thu, 08/04/2016 10:24 am

    I like what Ann Scheidler said concerning the response of pregnancy care center personnell to this mandate: "They will not do it."

  • Hilltop
    Posted: Tue, 08/16/2016 10:28 am

    Does the bill mandate that abortion centers provide patients with a list of pro-life medical providers?