(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal nonprofit, has filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of pro-life doctors and pregnancy centers in Illinois and Hawaii.
Both states enforce laws that coerce doctors to promote abortion, violating the religious beliefs of doctors and other medical personnel, according to ADF.
“Government officials shouldn’t be allowed to force anyone to provide free advertising for the abortion industry,” said ADF legal counsel Elissa Graves. “Furthermore, federal law simply doesn’t allow it. States that compel pro-life doctors and staff to act contrary to their conscience do not qualify for federal funds. We have filed these complaints to inform HHS of what is happening so that it can take action.”
Hawaii and Illinois have adopted policies that target faith-based pregnancy centers, which require them to promote alternative options — like abortion — that they do not offer. These centers must display written notices informing clients about where to obtain contraceptive options, and abortions.
“Hawaii has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services, including, but not limited to, all FDA-approved methods of contraception and pregnancy-related services for eligible women,” reads the notice that centers are required to post.
ADF said these laws violate the federal Church and Weldon amendments, which were passed to “protect the conscience rights of individuals and entities that object to performing or assisting in the performance of abortion or sterilization procedures if doing so would be contrary to the provider’s religious beliefs or moral convictions.”
ADF argued that forcing pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion and other contraceptive options violates this amendment — passed to prevent overbearing laws like Illinois’s and Hawaii’s.
Supporters of the laws say it helps women by providing them with a full coverage of information on pregnancy options. The faith-based pregnancy centers disagreed, saying it forces them to promote abortion as a superior option.
“Hawaii’s pregnancy help organizations are delivering caring, compassionate help for women and families at absolutely zero cost to the state’s taxpayers,” Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International — an affiliation that includes three Hawaiian pregnancy centers — said. “No woman should ever feel so alone or trapped that she feels abortion is her only option, but this is exactly the situation laws like these create.”
ADF’s complaints to the HHS state that medical personnel have the right “to offer medical assistance to women in need without compromising their religious convictions relating to abortion or abortion-causing drugs are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
“Americans should always have the freedom to think and speak without fear of unjust government punishment,” Graves said.