Pro-Life Ministries Victorious Against State of Illinois’ Attack on Pregnancy Centers

Illinois Attorney General Agrees to Permanent Injunction Blocking Blatantly Discriminatory Law

By Tom Ciesielka

 (Chicago, Illinois) Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has agreed to an order permanently prohibiting the State of Illinois from enforcing a law that declared pro-life speech to be a “deceptive business practice” and defined as “consumer fraud” the sharing of certain information about the risks of abortion. Thomas More Society attorneys on Tuesday filed, together with the Attorney General, a Joint Motion to Enter an Agreed Order, imposing a Permanent Injunction on the Attorney General. The Joint Motion was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, for the signature of U.S. District Judge Iain D. Johnston.

In July, Thomas More Society attorneys sued the Attorney General over the law—known as Senate Bill 1909, or SB 1909—representing the pregnancy center umbrella group National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), along with Illinois pregnancy centers Women’s Help Services and Relevant Pregnancy Options Center, and sidewalk counseling organizations Pro-Life Action League and Rockford Family Initiative. The Agreed Order provides for a full recovery of attorney’s fees by Thomas More Society.

Peter Breen, Thomas More Society Executive Vice President & Head of Litigation, who served as lead counsel for NIFLA and the other plaintiffs, hailed the victory as a significant win for pro-life ministries and free speech in Illinois—which will also serve as a warning to other states across the country that attempt to target pro-life ministries with discriminatory laws.

“The federal court was spot on in holding that SB 1909 is ‘both stupid and very likely unconstitutional,’” stated Breen, recalling Johnston’s preliminary injunction order. “SB 1909 exempts abortion facilities and their speech, while exclusively regulating pro-life organizations and their speech, in flagrant violation of the First Amendment.

“This law is just one of a number of illegal new laws enacted across the country that restrict pro-life speech—we hope this permanent injunction, with full attorney’s fees, serves as a warning to other states that would seek to follow Illinois and try to silence pro-life viewpoints. We are honored to represent NIFLA and other life-affirming organizations to protect them from unjust laws like SB 1909 that seek to put a halt to their good work.”

Thomas Glessner, Founder and President of NIFLA, stated: “We are elated that a permanent injunction has been issued against Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and SB 1909, which ensures this unconstitutional law will never go into effect. This is a huge win not only for NIFLA and our wonderful attorneys at the Thomas More Society but especially for pregnancy centers in the state, who serve the thousands of women in Illinois who are facing unplanned pregnancies—all at no cost. SB 1909 was an absolute weaponization of government that unfairly and unconstitutionally targeted pregnancy centers simply because they refused to refer for or perform abortions. Let this be a stern example of what awaits those who attempting to pass and enforce similar laws—look to Illinois and save taxpayer dollars for actually helping their communities instead of going after organizations that help women and their families.”

The Joint Motion follows an August 3, 2023, preliminary injunction entered by Judge Johnston, which temporarily blocked Illinois’ enforcement of SB 1909. That court order was issued one week after Illinois enacted SB 1909. Thomas More Society attorneys filed the lawsuit against SB 1909 one hour after the law was signed.

Read the Joint Motion to Enter an Agreed Order filed December 11, 2023, with the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates et al. v. Raoulhere; Agreed Order (as proposed): here.