Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul today applauded Governor JB Pritzker for signing into law his legislation to hold crisis pregnancy centers that engage in deceptive practices accountable.
Illinois law establishes the fundamental rights of individuals to make autonomous decisions about their reproductive health. There have been reports in Illinois and nationwide of limited services pregnancy centers, often referred to as “crisis pregnancy centers,” using deceptive and misleading practices to spread false information and interfere with patients’ timely access to the full range of reproductive care.
“I witnessed deceptive crisis pregnancy center tactics firsthand on a visit to tour a Planned Parenthood health center in Illinois. People who appeared as though they might work there were outside attempting to divert patients away from the health center,” Raoul said. “Patients report going to crisis pregnancy centers – sometimes even receiving exams and ultrasounds – thinking they were visiting a clinic that offers the full range of reproductive care. In addition, patients may disclose personal medical information, unaware the center may not keep that information private and confidential. By signing this law at a time when reproductive health access faces continued attacks in other states, Gov. Pritzker is helping to protect patients who seek care in Illinois from these extreme violations of trust and privacy.”
“Women need access to comprehensive, fact-based healthcare when making critical decisions about their own health – not manipulation or misinformation from politically motivated, non-medical actors,” Pritzker said. “By empowering the Attorney General’s office to battle deceptive practices, we’re ensuring Illinoisans can make their own decisions about their bodies using accurate and safe information.”
Rep. Terra Costa Howard and Sen. Celina Villanueva sponsored Senate Bill 1909.
“There is a war on people’s ability to make informed decisions about their reproductive health care,” said Villanueva. “Workers at crisis pregnancy centers should not be able to deceptively mislead women into making decisions that aren’t the best for them or their futures. When you go to the doctor and someone appears to be medical staff, you trust they are medical staff. You trust your ability to make autonomous, informed, evidence-based decisions. Reproductive health care should be no different.”
“These fake clinics were set up specifically to deceive patients who are seeking reproductive healthcare,” said Rep. Costa Howard. “These so-called clinics actually put patients’ health at risk by interfering with their access to comprehensive care, and it’s time to hold them accountable for their deceptive practices.”
While crisis pregnancy centers’ advertising may offer general pregnancy-related services, these facilities do not offer the full range of reproductive care, and the mission of most crisis pregnancy centers is to convince pregnant people to carry to term and not have an abortion. Many provide misleading information overstating the risks associated with abortion, including conveying false claims that abortion causes cancer or infertility.
Some are located near clinics that do provide comprehensive reproductive care and use names similar to clinics to misdirect patients and prevent them from accessing the full range of information and care. Crisis pregnancy centers do not provide abortions or referrals for abortions. Many do not provide contraceptives or comprehensive prenatal care. They often do not have any medical professionals on-site, and they do not necessarily disclose any of these limitations in their online or in-person materials.
In addition to initiating SB 1909, Attorney General Raoul has offered recommendations to patients seeking reproductive care to ensure they can access comprehensive health services. Patients should check to be certain that they are entering the correct facility because crisis pregnancy centers may be located near abortion clinics and use similar names to divert women away from abortion providers. Patients should be aware that these centers and their staff and volunteers may not keep personal medical information private and confidential. They should also make sure the facility they plan to visit offers the full range of reproductive care options if that is what they seek.
Raoul also addressed protecting patients’ private reproductive health information in an op-ed published today by the Chicago Sun-Times.