Crackdown on crisis pregnancy centers passed out of statehouse

(WAND) — Crisis pregnancy centers provide resources to expecting mothers and families in Illinois. But state lawmakers said some of these centers are deceiving and harming women in a vulnerable time.

Senate Bill 1909 passed out of the Illinois House of Representatives Wednesday night and is headed to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s desk for signature. The proposal is aimed at cracking down on crisis pregnancy centers that deceive patients. But some centers say their industry is being wrongly vilified.

“We come alongside the parents and help them just be the best parent, the healthiest parent that they can possibly be,” Penny Weaver, Executive Director of New Life Pregnancy Center, told WAND News.

Weaver said when someone walks through the doors of her center, they’re immediately connected with resources. But many come in wanting to confirm their pregnancy.

“The most important service we offer is the opportunity for women to learn if they are pregnant or not, and have that confirmed. And from there we help them work through their options,” Weaver explained.

This can include options like continuing the pregnancy, adoption or even an abortion.

“We can’t make that decision for them, but we believe that they deserve the opportunity to be informed and learn about all of their options. And if they chose to not continue their pregnancy, this is still a safe place,” Weaver said.

Weaver explained, most clients do continue their pregnancy because they are able to get connected to resources. The center works with nonprofits who can provide food, clothing, housing and transportation. The center also provides in-house education, a boutique of baby items, and employment at a thrift store.

“If you’re a nonprofit doing work, and you’re providing information, that’s another thing. Because at the end of the day, this is to make sure the Attorney General has in statute what they need in order to enforce the law,” State Senator Celina Villanueva told WAND News.

Senator Villanueva said Illinoisans are reporting some crisis pregnancy centers advertise themselves as abortion clinic to trick women into coming through their doors.

“Some of the horror stories they had endured in terms like being trapped in rooms and again being forced to — when they had already made a determination on their own bodies — being forced to listen to other people critique them or yell at them,” Senator Villanueva added.

The bill would crack down on these deceptive practices, holding bad actors accountable.

“This is to help make sure that we’re prosecuting the cases where it is overtly and proven — in a court of law — that they have used deceptive and misleading practices in order to prevent someone from getting access to an abortion or emergency contraceptives,” Senator Villanueva said.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul would be responsible for prosecuting deceptive centers if the governor signs the bill into law.

Copyright 2023. WAND TV. All rights reserved.

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May 10, 2023 at 10:39PM

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