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Illinois, Hawaii put federal funding in jeopardy by forcing pregnancy centers, doctors to promote abortion

ADF attorneys file complaints with HHS over violations of federal law

WASHINGTON – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed complaints Monday with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of pregnancy care centers and pro-life doctors in Illinois and Hawaii who are being forced to advertise for the abortion industry. The federal Church and Weldon amendments do not allow states which receive federal funding to compel medical personnel to operate contrary to their conscience or religious beliefs.

ADF attorneys represent pregnancy care centers and physicians in both a state and federal lawsuit in Illinois and a federal lawsuit in Hawaii. So far, courts have issued injunctions against the forced-advertising law at issue in both Illinois cases.

“Government officials shouldn’t be allowed to force anyone to provide free advertising for the abortion industry,” said ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves. “Furthermore, federal law simply doesn’t allow it. States that compel pro-life doctors and staff to act contrary to their conscience do not qualify for federal funds. We have filed these complaints to inform HHS of what is happening so that it can take action.”

ADF attorneys submitted the complaints on behalf of Dr. Anthony Caruso and A Bella Baby OBGYN in Illinois, Dr. Tina Gingrich and Maryville Women’s Center in Illinois, and A Place for Women in Hawaii. The three complaints explain that the rights of doctors and pregnancy care centers “to offer medical assistance to women in need without compromising their religious convictions relating to abortion or abortion-causing drugs are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution” in addition to federal law, Illinois law, and the Illinois and Hawaii constitutions.

Illinois SB 1564 compels speech and action in violation of the oaths of health professionals. Specifically, pro-life doctors and pregnancy centers must tell pregnant women the names of doctors they believe offer abortions, that abortion has unspecified “benefits,” and that abortion is a “treatment option” for pregnancy.

Hawaii SB 501 requires pro-life pregnancy care centers, which offer free ultrasound and other prenatal care to pregnant women, to direct women to a state agency that provides abortion referrals. Specifically, the law requires pro-life pregnancy centers to post large signs or provide fliers which advertise that the “state of Hawaii provides free or low-cost access to comprehensive planning services”—including abortion-inducing drugs—and they must also include both a website address and phone number for the scheduling of those services.

Courts have invalidated or mostly invalidated similar laws in Austin, TexasMontgomery County, MarylandBaltimore; and New York City. In March, ADF attorneys asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case involving a California law.

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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