CHICAGO — A mobile pregnancy center in the Chicago area has reached a settlement with city officials that grants the ministry the right to freely assist pregnant women without restriction.
As previously reported, in March of last year, TLC Pregnancy Services, run by The Life Center, Inc. (TLC), filed a lawsuit against the City of Elgin for forcing the pro-life outreach to shut down its operations following a complaint by Council Member Anna Moeller. Police Chief Jeffrey Swoboda had boarded up the mobile unit in August 2012, ordering the ultrasound technician, Jane DeFily, to “cease and desist” her activities. He explained that a council member had called the unit an “eyesore.”
The Life Center also learned that Elgin City Council had amended its zoning code so that the mobile ultrasound would be considered a “temporary land use” that could only receive a permit four times a year per location. When the pro-life outreach attempted to obtain a permit that year, it was told that the City would not issue the organization any permits for the rest of 2012. The mobile ultrasound had been parking at Evangelical Covenant Church and JB’s Bar and Pub near the Elgin high school interchangeably.
Shortly after filing the lawsuit, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, granted The Life Center a temporary injunction to continue its activities while the case moved forward in court. This past August, the court made the injunction permanent, ruling that the city’s amended zoning ordinance was unconstitutional.
“The city’s code is unduly burdensome to the right of a woman to choose life,” wrote Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan, nominated by George W. Bush. “[I]t must be recognized that the City is preventing Life Center from being able to effectively provide pregnant women in the city with needed medical care that could identify issues and save lives of unborn children.”
Now The Life Center has reached a settlement with Elgin officials, who have agreed to amend their ordinance so that mobile ministries can operate freely and without charge. The city will also compensate for some of the attorney’s fees associated with the lawsuit.
“Women deserve access to the help they need for themselves and their unborn children without undue interference from the government,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Casey Mattox, who represented The Life Center in the case. “We will continue to work with our allied attorneys around the nation to resist any efforts to stop pregnancy centers from offering help and hope to women.”
The Life Center said it was pleased with the outcome of the settlement and looked forward to getting back out on the streets.
“Our main concern was always having the freedom to park TLC’s ultrasound mobile unit in Elgin where the need is the greatest,” stated Executive Director Vivian Maly. “We now look ahead to serving the women and families in our community with the support of the leadership in the city of Elgin.”