Pregnancy centers sue Illinois over new abortion notice law

CHICAGO (AP) — Christian crisis pregnancy centers in some Chicago suburbs are challenging a change in an Illinois law that now requires medical professionals to notify pregnant patients of all their available options, including abortion.

The lawsuit against state officials, including Gov. Bruce Rauner, claims the clinics’ constitutional free-speech rights are violated by the changes to the right-of-conscience law because they have to offer advice they find morally wrong, the Chicago Tribune (http://trib.in/2sMXdN4 ) reported.

The clinics also say the new law violates federal laws banning discrimination against doctors and other health care workers who don’t provide or refer patients for abortions.

Supporters of the law say informing patients of all their options is a standard practice of care in the medical field.

The law was originally passed after the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion to shield physicians opposed to performing the procedure. Modifications to the law, designed to protect patients who didn’t know all their options, were signed into law by Rauner last year after an emotional Illinois Senate subcommittee hearing.

Under the new law, which went into effect Jan. 1, providers must inform patients of their medical options, such as contraception or abortion, even if the physician is opposed to it for moral or religious reasons. If the patient seeks a particular treatment, the medical professional must give them a list of providers.

The two Christian clinics — 1st Way Pregnancy Support Services and Pregnancy Aid South Suburbs — and Dr. Ronald Schroeder, who works at various crisis pregnancy centers, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Springfield earlier this year. The case recently was transferred to federal court in Chicago, and then to Rockford, where it will be consolidated with another lawsuit over the law.

The governor’s office has said that it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.