National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Schneider
Description: Illinois SB 1564 forces pregnancy care centers, medical facilities, and physicians who conscientiously object to involvement in abortions to adopt policies that provide women who ask for abortions with a list of providers “they reasonably believe may offer” them.
Court halts Illinois mandate to promote abortion
ADF attorneys argue that the new law, which is actually an amendment to the existing Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act, violates federal law and the U.S. Constitution. In Wednesday’s order in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Rauner, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois agreed, writing, “It is clear that the amended act targets the free speech rights of people who have a specific viewpoint.”
“The government is out of line when it attempts to force Americans to communicate a message that is contrary to their most deeply held beliefs,” said ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves. “In addition, the state shouldn’t be robbing women of the freedom to choose a pro-life doctor by mandating that pro-life physicians and entities make or arrange abortion referrals. The court was right to halt enforcement of this law while our lawsuit proceeds.”
As the court’s order explains, “plaintiffs have demonstrated a better than negligible chance of succeeding in showing that the amended act discriminates based on their viewpoint by compelling them to tell their patients that abortion is a legal treatment option, which has benefits, and, at a minimum and upon request, to give their patients the identifying information of providers who will perform an abortion.”
“The government has no business forcing pro-life doctors and pregnancy care centers in Illinois to operate as referral agents for the abortion industry,” said ADF-allied attorney and co-counsel Noel Sterett with Mauck & Baker LLC. “A law that targets medical professionals because of their pro-life views and right of conscience is unconstitutional and unethical.”
“This decision correctly interprets the Constitution to prohibit compelled speech mandating faith-based ministries to speak a message with which they are fundamentally opposed,” added National Institute of Family and Life Advocates President Thomas A. Glessner. “We applaud this ruling that stops the state of Illinois from forcing pro-life pregnancy medical clinics to become abortion referral agencies.”
Mauck & Baker attorney Whitman Briskey is also co-counsel in the case on behalf of the plaintiffs.
ADF attorneys also represent NIFLA in a similar case out of California, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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Elissa Graves serves as legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where she is a key member of the Center for Life. Since joining ADF in 2013, Graves has focused her efforts on protecting the First Amendment freedoms of pro-life pregnancy centers and their staff, as well as pro-life sidewalk counselors. Graves earned her Juris Doctor at the University of Texas School of Law in 2013. She is member of the state bars of Arizona, Texas, and the District of Columbia. Graves is also admitted to multiple federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.