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Peter Breen, Senior Counsel and Vice President of the Chicago-based Thomas More SocietyThomas More Society

May 8, 2015 ( — In preparation for an Illinois State General Assembly hearing next Wednesday, Representative Peter Breen sent a letter voicing his opposition to up-and-coming legislation that would force pro-life medical providers, including pregnancy help medical clinics, to violate conscience in order to avoid financial penalization by the state.

The bill in question, Amendment 3 to Senate Bill 1564–named, Health Care Right of Conscience Act and once considered the gold standard of conscience protection law–would require all medical providers in the state to refer for abortions and counsel clients as to the “benefits” of abortion, according to the bill's specific wording.

The amendment would change a long-standing state law known as the Health Care Right of Conscience Act, overriding both individual and organizational conscientious objections by mandating what pro-life groups argue amounts to referrals for abortions.

The legislation would have a direct affect on the 46 pregnancy help organizations in Illinois who offer such medical services as ultrasound, STD/STI testing, though all 170 pregnancy help organizations could feel the sting of the legislation, since its broad definition has the potential to be applied to organizations offering pregnancy testing.

Passing a state Senate vote by a 34-19 margin April 22, the amendment was later assigned to the House Human Services Committee, which is comprised of 14 members, including eight Democrats and six Republicans. The committee is scheduled to review the bill Wednesday, March 13, at a hearing beginning at 8:30 a.m. (CST).

Rep. Breen, former Executive Director at the Thomas More Society–which focuses on First Amendment protections–issued the following press release Thursday.

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Today, Illinois State Representative Peter Breen issued a strong letter to his colleagues in opposition to Senate Bill 1564, legislation which would reverse protections in the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act. Breen, a constitutional attorney, was the first to identify the threats posed by the bill to Illinois’ pregnancy resource centers.

In his letter today, Breen carefully analyzes SB 1564, showing the following:  

  • SB 1564 will force health care professionals and facilities in Illinois to participate in abortions, either by performing abortions or by referring or directing patients to abortion clinics;
  • SB 1564 makes the conscience rights of health care workers contingent on the policies of their institutions;
  • SB 1564 imposes a new mandate on every doctor’s office, pharmacy, and community clinic in Illinois, along with most of the state’s pregnancy resource centers; 
  • SB 1564 will result in a flurry of lawsuits and the possible loss of Illinois’ federal health care funding; and
  • The examples cited by the ACLU do not support the broad scope of SB 1564.

“The situations raised by the activists supporting SB 1564 at best call for a scalpel—a limited response—but SB 1564 instead takes a hatchet to our health care workers and our law,” said Breen in the letter.

SB 1564 has been assigned to the Illinois House Human Services Committee and is expected to be heard in committee within the next week.

Breen’s letter is here.

Peter Breen is a first-term Illinois state representative. His 48th District includes portions of Glen Ellyn, Lombard, Wheaton, Lisle, Downers Grove, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, and Villa Park. Residents of the district can reach Rep. Breen via phone at 630-403-8135 or online at

Reprinted with permission from Pregnancy Help News


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