(The Center Square) – After much debate on the Senate floor, Illinois lawmakers voted to approve a measure prohibiting limited service pregnancy centers from engaging in what the attorney general could deem deceptive acts or practices.
Senate Bill 1909 would allow the Illinois attorney general to shut down “limited pregnancy care centers” in Illinois when the AG believes the center has engaged in, is engaging in, or is about to engage in any practice declared unlawful.
On Friday, the measure was debated in the Illinois Senate.
The measure’s sponsor, state Sen. Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, clarified her intentions for the bill during debate.
“Senate Bill 1909 protects patients against the use of deceptive and misleading practices that hinder the ability of people to make informed decisions and access timely reproductive healthcare,” Villanueva said.
Republican lawmakers argued against Villanueva’s claims as state Sen. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, said the measure only benefits the AG’s office.
“In fact, what this bill does is it says that the attorney general’s office is allowed to make the rules, then they are allowed to decide what the fines are going to be for this, then they collect the fines, and it goes into their own coffers,” Bryant said.
The bill provides that if the AG’s office finds any violations at one of these facilities, they can impose a fee on the company of up to $50,000.
State Sen. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, argued that the measure was a way for Democrats to punish these clinics.
“Don’t try to hang this over their heads and harass them,” Tracy said. “We talk about bullying all the time. We need peaceful discussion of our ideas.”
Separately, state Rep. Bill Hauter, R-Morton, spoke at an anti-abortion rally with about 1,500 people in attendance in Springfield last month and agreed with Tracy.
“We see in this General Assembly a bill to silence and intimidate pregnancy resource centers,” Hauter said. “I’ll tell you, pregnancy care centers are the true pro-choice pregnancy centers in Illinois.”
State Sen. Rachel Ventura, D-Joliet, a co-sponsor of the measure, said the measure is about protecting the women of Illinois by providing up-to-date and accurate information.
“Lets be clear, this bill is about women and making sure that they have the factual information,” Ventura said. “We can only make good decisions when we have good information, and no one wants to be deceived.”
The measure is now in the Illinois House for further discussion.