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Article updated: 8/8/2013 6:56 PM

Elgin group to continue offering mobile pregnancy services

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A federal judge on Thursday banned Elgin from enforcing zoning restrictions that would prevent The Life Center from offering free ultrasounds and pregnancy tests from its mobile facility.

TLC attorney Noel W. Sterett in a prepared statement praised Federal Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan's ruling saying, "the court has done what is best for pregnant women and their unborn babies who benefit from TLC's free services. This zoning law appears to have had no purpose other than to unconstitutionally block those services to the detriment of the women of Elgin and the surrounding area."

In September 2010, TLC -- a faith-based organization promoting "pro-life issues, the family and Christian living" -- began offering services from its specially equipped van parked with permission in lots owned by J.B.'s Pub and the Evangelical Church of Elgin, court filings show. TLC parked the van in the lots for one day a week for a total of 52 days a year.

In August 2012, Elgin authorities ordered TLC to shut down the mobile facility pursuant to an amended city ordinance that classified it as a temporary land use limited to four days per year.

Last March, TLC filed a federal lawsuit against the city charging that the new zoning restrictions were "constitutionally vague" and violated a woman's right to access its services. At that time, Der-Yeghiayan issued a temporary restraining order allowing TLC to continue offering the ultrasounds while the lawsuit was pending.

Elgin "is preventing Life Center from being able to effectively provide pregnant women ... with needed medical care that could identify medical issues and save the lives of unborn children. Life Center has in fact provided evidence that it has helped a multitude of young women who have used the services" of the mobile facility, wrote Der-Yeghiayan in his opinion.

In a prepared statement, William A. Cogley, Elgin's legal counsel, said Elgin officials "respectfully disagree with the legal conclusions and the interpretation of certain facts of this matter" and will review the matter over the next several days to "determine the appropriate courses of action."

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