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Christian Ultrasound Company Sues City

CHICAGO (CN) - A company with an ultrasound machine in a van sued Elgin, Ill., claiming a city zoning law unconstitutionally prevents it from "sharing the truth of God's love" with pregnant women.

The Life Center dba TLC Pregnancy Services sued Elgin in Federal Court, citing 12 causes of action, including religious freedom, interference, the Free Access to Clinics Act and - the apparent origin of the complaint - an Elgin zoning law.

TLC, which is sponsored by the Evangelical Covenant Church in Elgin, claims its ultrasound van has offered free pregnancy tests and information since 1984.

It claims the Elgin police chief came aboard the van in August 2012, as it was parked in a parking lot at J.B's, a pub & pasta joint, and told it that "TLC had to 'cease and desist' its activity and provision of free reproductive healthcare services at that location."

The police said that "a city councilperson had driven by and called the mobile facility an 'eyesore,'" according to the complaint.

"For the last few years the City of Elgin had required TLC to apply and pay for a permit to engage in its activity at this location and others throughout Elgin, even at privately owned locations," the complaint states.

"The cost of each temporary use permit was $190.00."

TLC claims that when it tried to renew its permit later that month, Elgin refused, citing a recently amended zoning code.

"Prior to the amendment, TLC had been permitted to operate out of the church's or J.B.'s lot once a week for the entire calendar year, because the days, taken in the aggregate only amounted to 52 days per zoning lot each year," the complaint states.

"After the amendment, TLC was limited to only four non-consecutive days per year at $190 per permit."

TLC claims the zoning law is unconstitutional: "TLC is losing opportunities to inform, minister to, and care for the women of Elgin and those women are being seriously burdened in their ability to acquire the free reproductive healthcare information and ultrasound imaging and in their ability to care for themselves during the pregnancy and for their unborn children with each week that passes.

"By application of a facially overbroad provision of its zoning code, the city of Elgin has unlawfully restricted, limited, burdened, and denied the TLC's ability to continue providing the women of Elgin with reproductive healthcare services, information, and crisis pregnancy support from its mobile ultrasound facility in furtherance of TLC's religiously motivated mission."

TLC says in its complaint that its volunteers "provide a message of hope by sharing the truth of God's love for them and the life they can find in and through Jesus Christ. Bibles and other religious literature are freely distributed."

It seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, and nominal damages.

It represented by John Mauck with Mauck & Baker.

Elgin, pop. 108,000, is west of Chicago.

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