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City of Elgin, Illinois, reaches settlement with pro-life Mobile Pregnancy Services

by | Jan 29, 2014

 

By Dave Andrusko

Mobileultrasound2A reader of NRL News Today was kind enough to inform me that a settlement had been reached in a lawsuit filed against the city of Elgin, Illinois, over a zoning restriction which effectively prevented TLC [The Life Center] Pregnancy Services from providing the women of Elgin, particularly high-school age girls, with free pregnancy information, testing, and ultrasound care through its mobile ultrasound facility.

When last we discussed the case, “In an opinion which called Elgin’s ‘effort to curtail private entities from providing free and valuable services to its young women …ill-advised,’ United States District Court Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan permanently enjoined Elgin’s code restrictions which had been used to halt The Life Center’s mobile pregnancy services.” (The mobile unit parked at two locations near Larkin High School.)

Judge Der-Yeghiayan wrote that the ordinance was “unconstitutionally vague” and called it “unduly burdensome to the right of a woman to choose life.”

What we didn’t know was that last December, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the city of Elgin’s motion to halt the lawsuit. Thus, last week’s settlement makes sense.

According to the Daily Herald’s Harry Hitzeman, “The city of Elgin has reached a settlement in a federal lawsuit filed by The Life Center, Inc., that allows the group to provide free, mobile ultrasound services and pregnancy tests for women at two city locations. The city also will pay $280,000 of TLC’s attorney fees after the group sued in March 2013 after the city shut down TLC’s mobile units in fall 2012.”

In a prepared statement, TLC Executive Director Vivian Maly said, “We are relieved that a settlement has been reached with the city of Elgin. Our main concern was always having the freedom to park TLC’s ultrasound mobile unit in Elgin where the need is greatest.” She added, “We now look ahead to serving the women and families in our community with the support of the leadership in the city of Elgin.”

The legal tussle began in June 2012 when the city classified TLC’s mobile facility and a number of other mobile operations as a “temporary land use.” That “limited them to only four uses per year at any one location, by permit, and provided for charging fees for such setups,” according to Mike Danahey of the Courier-News.

The city insisted, then as now, that the city’s rules “are fair, impartial and lawful” and that “no member of the city council or city staff targeted TLC’s mobile facility or attempted to shut down their services.”

A release from Mauck & Baker, which represented TLC, stated,

“TLC Pregnancy Services has alleged that certain Elgin officials improperly sought to limit their provision of free ultrasound and pregnancy services to women in Elgin. Certain facts and evidence support this assertion. However, this litigation has been settled amicably. TLC wishes to emphasize that it has sought or received nothing from the city beyond the freedom to serve the women in the Elgin community and partial reimbursement for some of its legal expenses. Therefore, the parties agreed to disagree on a number of issues and move forward with their compatible objectives in serving the people of Elgin.”

TLC attorney Noel Sterett put it simply: “Pregnant women are better served when they are fully informed.”

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Categories: Judicial Ultrasound