Updated: April 9, 2013 11:44AM
ELGIN — A mobile ultrasound provider has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Elgin over a zoning restriction the plaintiff says prevents many women from obtaining free reproductive health services.
According to a written statement from TLC Pregnancy Services, it had provided women in Elgin — particularly high-school-age girls — with free pregnancy information, testing and ultrasound care through its mobile ultrasound facility for nearly two years before it was shut down last summer by the city.
During that time, the statement said, the organization provided ultrasounds, free pregnancy tests, prenatal vitamins and pregnancy health care information to nearly 200 women.
TLC said JB’s Pub & Bar on McLean Boulevard — just down the street from Larkin High School — and Evangelical Covenant Church, adjacent to the school, regularly made their parking lots available to TLC’s mobile facility.
According to TLC, Police Chief Jeff Swoboda, at the request of City Council member Anna Moeller, boarded the mobile facility last August while it was parked at JB’s and ordered TLC’s ultrasound technician to “cease and desist.” It said Swoboda told the technician that a city council member had driven by and described the mobile facility as an “eyesore.”
The city council had amended its zoning code the previous June in a way that classified the mobile facility and a number of other mobile operations as a “temporary land use” limited to only four uses per year at each location. When TLC attempted to renew its permit, TLC’s statement said, the group was told that no further permits would be issued in 2012.
City Corporation Counsel Bill Cogley said Thursday that because of the pending litigation, he could not comment on the issue.
Noel W. Sterett, an attorney with the Chicago law firm Mauck & Baker, which represents TLC together with the not-for-profit group Alliance Defending Freedom, issued the following statement:
“Why should young women in Elgin, who may have nowhere else to turn, be deprived of free medical services and support? Pregnancy information and support, which TLC makes accessible free of charge, are critical to young women facing an unplanned pregnancy.”
TLC describes itself as a “no-charge pregnancy support facility which provides equal access to individuals with reproductive concerns in the Elgin community. Along with free ultrasounds, pregnancy and STD testing, pregnancy health care, pre- and post-birth education, they also have a fathers’ support program. An emergency food pantry is available and Hope Services, which provides women’s and children’s clothing, as well as funding for emergency situations.”