(The Center Square) – A measure that grants the Illinois Attorney General’s office the power to shut down limited-service pregnancy centers is now Illinois law.
Senate Bill 1909 allows the Illinois Attorney General to shut down pregnancy resource centers in Illinois when the AG finds the center has engaged in, is engaging in, or is about to engage in any practice declared unlawful.
The measure passed both chambers along party lines in April and was signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker Thursday.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul came up with the idea for the legislation and attended a news conference on Thursday at a Planned Parenthood facility to discuss the measure.
“Senate Bill 1909 is about clarifying that the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act that applies to many businesses applies to crisis pregnancy centers as well,” Raoul said. “This bill is intended to protect the individuals to access the full range of reproductive healthcare and make fully informed decisions including the right to use or refuse reproductive healthcare.”
Since the U.S. Supreme Court decided to return the matter of abortion to state governments, Illinois has seen issues with individuals trying to prevent others from the service, Raoul said.
“This is done with the intent to cause delay and prevent the patient from making it to their appointment,” Raoul said. “These issues are not new, but this egregious conduct has amped up since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.”
The group Illinois Right to Life released a statement and fundraising effort after Pritzker signed the bill.
“This bill is a direct attack on pro-life pregnancy resource centers and the critically-important services that they provide to women across the state,” said Illinois Right to Life Executive Director Mary Kate Zander. “We are working hard every day to fight back against the national abortion industry’s attempts to turn Illinois into their national abortion failsafe.”
Republican lawmakers pushed back on the need for this bill during the spring legislative session.
“Honestly, this bill, it’s hard for me to understand why we need it,” said state Rep. Bill Hauter, R-Morton. “How it would be constitutional in any way, and the sponsor’s description of pregnancy care centers is nothing that I recognize.”
State Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich, asked Raoul, who was in attendance during the spring debate in the House, to answer their questions but was directed to speak only to the bill’s sponsor.
“Perhaps the Attorney General can elaborate on some of these questions we are asking here,” Niemerg said. “This is a very broad brush that you are painting with, representative, and I think the people of Illinois deserve to know through examples what will be applicable and what won’t be applicable under this act, don’t you agree?”
Raoul explained what actions would qualify as being deceptive.
“This is about ensuring consumers have timely access to accurate information and medically appropriate care that’s free from interference, deception, and unfair practices,” Raoul said.
The bill provides that if the AG’s office finds any violations at a facility, they can impose a fee of up to $50,000 on the company.