A mobile ultrasound provider filed a federal lawsuit today against the city of Elgin over its new zoning restriction which effectively prevents many women from obtaining free reproductive health services.
For nearly two years, TLC Pregnancy Services has provided the women of Elgin, particularly high-school age girls, with free pregnancy information, testing, and ultrasound care through its mobile ultrasound facility.
“Why should young women in Elgin, who may have nowhere else to turn, be deprived of free services and support?” said Noel W. Sterett, an attorney with the Mauck & Baker law firm, which represents TLC together with Alliance Defending Freedom. “Pregnancy information and support, which TLC makes accessible free of charge, are critical to young women facing an unplanned pregnancy.”
Two locations, the Evangelical Covenant Church, adjacent to Elgin Larkin High School, and JB’s Pub & Bar, approximately one block from the school, regularly made their parking lots available to support TLC’s services to the young women of Elgin. In just two years, TLC reports that nearly 200 women visited the mobile facility to receive free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, prenatal vitamins, and pregnancy health care information.
“We want to support and empower these young women by allowing them to see their babies through ultrasound images and help them make informed decisions regarding their pregnancy,” said TLC’s Executive Director Vivian Maly.
Last summer, Elgin moved to shut down TLC’s mobile facility for the rest of the year at both locations. Records indicate that, in August, Police Chief Jeffrey Swoboda, at the request of City Council member Anna Moeller, boarded the mobile facility while parked at JB’s and ordered TLC’s ultrasound technician, Jane DeFily, to “cease and desist” her activity. The officer informed DeFily that a certain city councilperson had driven by and described the mobile facility as an “eyesore.”
Upon further investigation, TLC discovered that the city council had just amended its zoning code in June in a way that classified the mobile facility as a “temporary land use” limited to only four uses per year at each location. When TLC attempted to renew its permit, it was told that no further permits would be issued in 2012.