By Dave Andrusko
This week the Wall Street Journal published an outstanding editorial headlined “Free-Speech Lesson for J.B. Pritzker: A federal judge scolds Illinois Democrats for trying to silence abortion foes.” A little context explains why federal Judge Iain Johnston called the law amending the state’s Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act “both stupid and very likely unconstitutional.”
That context includes what is obvious to pro-lifers and pro-choicers alike: there are a number of deep blue states, including Illinois, that fancy themselves “safe havens.” They are doing everything in their considerable power to make themselves welcoming to out-of-state women who want to abort. As we wrote earlier this month
Since Roe v. Wade has been overturned, Pritzker and the Democrat-led Illinois General Assembly have further expanded abortion rights in Illinois — seeking to create a safe haven for patients traveling from states that have banned abortions.” Among the many “steps” Pritzker is taking to expand “abortion care” in Illinois is creating “a new hotline to help patients with hospital navigation, pre-operative testing and arranging payment and transportation.”
That hotline– the Complex Abortion Regional Line for Access or CARLA for short–will be run by the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Rush University System for Health and (of course) the Chicago Abortion Fund.
But that’s just the beginning of Pritzker’s campaign to make Illinois the abortion capital of the Midwest. “The governor’s office also announced a request for proposals for a separate abortion service navigation hotline to help patients find abortion care in Illinois, including those traveling from states in which abortions are banned, with funding coming from the Health and Family Services Department’s budget and Medicaid dollars.”
Warming to the task Pritzker announced a new $5 million grant program to help abortion providers expand their practices and establish mobile abortion facilities to increase access to baby killing.
There is little that can be done in the short-to-medium term. Pro-abortion Democrats rule the roost in these states. But not content with establishing hotlines, providing money, and creating mobile abortion units, they are determined to strangle pro-life pregnancy help centers.
Back to Judge Johnson’s decision that the law “is both stupid and very likely unconstitutional.” He wrote “It is stupid because its own supporter admitted it was unneeded and had no evidence supporting its claims of deception,” and “It is likely unconstitutional because it is a blatant example of government taking the side of whose speech is sanctionable and whose speech is immunized.”
Pro-abortionists rarely even bother to hide their double standard. From the editorial:
The speech of abortion providers is “specifically excluded from being sanctioned under the Consumer Fraud Act,” Judge Johnston wrote. Regulating pregnancy centers for deceptive practices while exempting abortion providers is viewpoint discrimination. In Reed v. Town of Gilbert (2015), the Supreme Court held that laws regulating speech based on content are “presumptively unconstitutional” and violate the First Amendment.
I think back to the testimony delivered July 24 to the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure in opposition to H.377/S. 174 by Patricia Stewart, executive director of Massachusetts Citizen for Life. She said
“On May 1st, I received the AGO’s [Attorney General’s Office’s] response, stating the records she was providing “encompassed all of the complaints received by the AGO as of April 14, 2023,” the date she received my request.
These records consist of:
- 4 consumer complaints–with redacted dates–against 3 named PRCs and
- 1 third-party complaint against 1 of the same 3 PRCs, dated 2017 from a Washington DC group, whose website promotes a Planned Parenthood blog.
Notably absent were any records evidencing action taken by the AGO in response to these complaints.
One other point of the many the Wall Street Journal Editorial made:
The law was challenged by the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates and others. John Jansen, a project coordinator for Pro-Life Action League, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the AG’s office seeking information about what fraudulent or misleading conduct by pregnancy centers had prompted the AG’s crackdown.
His declaration to the court says the FOIA found no patient had “ever lodg(ed) an actual complaint with the Attorney General against an Illinois pregnancy help ministry, much less for a violation of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practice Act.”
Do you see a pattern? Pregnancy Help Centers help thousands of women and do so with nearly spotless records. Abortion clinics are free from any oversight.
In her testimony, Stewart concluded
H.377 is not about protecting women’s health; it is about protecting abortion providers’ profits by censoring and ultimately shutting down their only competition – the PRCs of Massachusetts, who work for free and offer women a true choice.