State law applies to over 200 privately funded pregnancy centers
A long list of federal judges in California, including members of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, have affirmed the state’s requirement that pro-life crisis pregnancy centers advertise for abortionists.
But that may change soon, when the U.S. Supreme Court finally gets a chance to review the FACT Act, AB 775.
The law “requires licensed medical centers that offer free, pro-life help to pregnant women to post a disclosure saying that California provides free or low-cost abortion and contraception services.”
According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the disclosure “must also include a phone number for a county office that refers women to Planned Parenthood and other abortionists.”
But ADF said Monday the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the dispute.
“Forcing anyone to provide free advertising for the abortion industry is unthinkable – especially when it’s the government doing the forcing. This is even more true when it comes to pregnancy care centers, which exist specifically to care for women who want to have their babies,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot.
“The state should protect freedom of speech and freedom from coerced speech. Information about abortion is just about everywhere, so the government doesn’t need to punish pro-life centers for declining to advertise for the very act they can’t promote.”
The FACT Act has been endorsed by California judges at the district court and 9th Circuit levels. They have agreed, amid California’s pro-abortion culture, that pro-life advocates can be forced to promote local abortionists.
That’s even though courts already have mostly invalidated similar laws in New York City, Baltimore, Montgomery County in Maryland and Austin, Texas.
The case is National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, referring to Xavier Becerra, the state’s pro-abortion attorney general.
ADF lawyers asked the Supreme Court to hear their arguments on behalf of a pro-life pregnancy care center network and two independent centers.
“The Supreme Court will decide whether to reverse the ruling, halt the law, and affirm that forcing the centers to provide the free advertising contrary to their core mission is a violation of their constitutionally protected freedoms,” ADF said.
California’s Democratic-majority legislature wrote a law that benefits abortion businesses by requiring licensed medical centers that offer free, pro-life help to pregnant women to post a disclosure promoting abortion.
According to the petition filed with the Supreme Court in March, “California enacted the Reproductive FACT Act with the stated purpose of targeting pro-life ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ based on their viewpoint that ‘discourage[s]’ abortion.”
The petition says the Ninth Circuit “candidly admits that it upheld the act amidst a ‘circuit split’ over how to scrutinize regulations of speech by medical professionals on controversial health issues.”
But the opinion actually conflicts with earlier rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court, ADF argued.
“Why should the abortion industry be able to force others – even pro-life centers – to provide free abortion advertising?” said ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves. “Planned Parenthood, which makes millions from abortion, deceives women into believing that abortion is their only choice. Pregnancy care centers, which provide their care for free, were established specifically to help women understand that they have the choice of life for their children, and that they will be there to help them through their pregnancies.”
Thomas Glessner, founder of NIFLA, said the U.S. tradition of jurisprudence “has always respected the freedoms of speech and conscience, whether for medical professionals to not participate in abortions or conscientious objectors to war.”
“California’s law attempts to force pro-life pregnancy resource centers to become abortion referral agencies. This should shock any supporter of free speech and conscience rights, regardless of their position on politics or abortion.”
WND has reported on other cases, including in July when a federal judge in Illinois ruled a law that would force pregnancy centers to promote abortion regardless of their moral views likely is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Frederick Kapala determined an amendment to the state’s health-care laws likely will be overturned when the issue comes to trial.
He issued a temporary injunction preventing the law’s enforcement until the case is concluded.
“The amended act targets the free speech rights of people who have a specific viewpoint,” he wrote.
As with other similar laws, the Illinois law would have required doctors and pregnancy care centers, even those that are pro-life, to promote abortion.
“The government is out of line when it attempts to force Americans to communicate a message that is contrary to their most deeply held beliefs,” said Graves.
WND reported in 2014 almost identical arguments in Montgomery County, Maryland, where an appeals court decided against rules that would restrict the speech of pregnancy centers.