As part of the ongoing national war on pregnancy centers, a year-long battle was conducted in the state of Illinois by Governor Pritzker and the state’s Attorney General, Kwame Raoul. In this particular skirmish, a law was drafted to apply the power of the government to the goal of shutting down Pro-life charitable centers that support women in their pregnancies, which the law labeled as “Limited Services Pregnancy Centers.” The label was intended to highlight the fact that these particular centers did not provide what the state appears to deem important and necessary abortion services. Apparently, to the drafters of the Illinois law, the assumption is that to be considered as a true (non-limited) “pregnancy” center, the facility must offer the service of ending the life of the child that is the subject of the pregnancy. Thus, to the Governor and a majority of legislators in Illinois, it appears that the only true “pregnancy” centers are in fact abortion-performing facilities.
This is not the first time that a state had attacked pregnant women’s care centers. In 2015, California attempted to pass a law targeting such centers that was eventually found to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of NIFLA v. Becerra in 2018. A few years later in 2021, politicians in Connecticut attacked their women’s care centers, but were stopped by a lawsuit. In 2023, legislators in the state of Vermont have waged their own unique battle against pregnancy centers, which at the time of this writing remains in progress.
The law in Illinois (SB1909), amending the state’s existing Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, was passed and signed earlier this year. The strategy of its drafters appeared to be to leave the definition of what is defined as a “deceptive” practice as vague as possible, then use the up to $50,000 fine per instance (in combination with necessary litigation expenses that would be associated with defending attacks) as a catalyst to bankrupt “limited services” pregnancy centers operating within the state, thereby paving the way for more abortions in what is already a leading state for these life-ending practices.
Pro-life groups, represented by the Thomas More Society based in Chicago, filed a protest in federal court arguing in part that the law represented a weaponization of the power of government, and was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution. As a result of the filing, a preliminary injunction was granted in federal court earlier this year on August 4 in order to delay the law from being implemented.
A Win on a Propitious Date
In the latest news on this battle, it was recently announced on December 11 that a permanent injunction had been granted, thereby ending this aspect of the war in Illinois (at least for the time being). Not only was this news well received by me and many others, but the next day also happened to be a special day for me and other Catholics. That is, in the Roman Catholic Church, December 12 is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This is noteworthy because in 1999, Saint Pope John Paul II declared Our Lady of Guadalupe as “the Patroness of the Unborn.” To understand why this label is appropriate, the following will provide some background.
The story goes back to the year 1531 in Mexico, when Our Lady appeared to a native Aztec and recent Christian convert named Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (now Saint Juan Diego). Not only did she appear to and speak to him, she also left a permanent imprint of an image of herself on his cloak, in which he used to carry special roses (provided by Our Lady) that were intended to convince the local bishop to build a shrine to her on the site of the hill where the encounter had taken place.
Among other important symbols, the miraculous image that was imprinted on the cloak shows Our Lady wearing a black sash and bearing the jasmine flower over her womb, which in the native Aztec culture was an indication of pregnancy. In other words, the image left on the cloak indicates that Our Lady was with child.
Perhaps another reason Our Lady of Guadalupe holds the title of Patroness of the Unborn may have something to do with the fact that tradition indicates that the hill where she appeared (called Tepeyac hill in what is today Mexico City) was the home of an ancient Aztec temple that was used to conduct child sacrifice. As barbaric as this sounds to modern ears, the sacrifices were thought to have been performed in order to placate certain Aztec gods, specifically their rain gods. In other words, the geographic location of her apparition to Saint Juan Diego has a direct connection to the killing of children.
So, to summarize, it happens that on December 11, a permanent legal injunction resulting in protecting unborn children was announced in my state of Illinois. The very next day, December 12, a day for celebration of this victory, ends up falling on the same day that is dedicated to the Patroness of the Unborn.
However, as for me and my house, I will choose not to ignore the obvious connection.
God bless Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Photo Credit- Colorado Public Radio