Trump Admin Tells Supreme Court: Don’t Force Pregnancy Centers to Promote Abortion

National   Micaiah Bilger   Jan 22, 2018   |   11:04AM    Washington, DC

Pregnancy resource centers received a boost of support from the Trump administration Wednesday in their challenge of a California requirement that they promote abortions.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court last week in defense of the pro-life organizations’ lawsuit, Christian Times reports.

The pregnancy centers are challenging a California law that forces them to provide free advertising for the abortion industry. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law, but the pregnancy centers appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here’s more about the brief from the Department of Justice:

The clinics contended that the measure should be subjected to “strict scrutiny,” which is the most penetrating level of judicial inquiry. The Department of Justice, on the other hand, argued that the high court does not need to use strict scrutiny as the law fails even more relaxed standards.

“Licensed clinics have a strong interest in refraining from speech that advertises third-party services they find morally repugnant,” the DOJ stated in the brief, as reported by The Stream.

“California has not substantiated any particularized interest in having licensed clinics themselves disseminate the notice.” the department continued.

Dozens of state and federal lawmakers also have filed briefs in support of the pregnancy centers’ case.

The law, California’s Reproductive FACT Act, AB 775, 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. The disclosure also must include a phone number for a county office that refers women to Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses.

As one of the friend-of-the-court briefs notes, the law also forces unlicensed pregnancy centers to add large disclosures in multiple languages about their non-medical status in all advertisements, which obscure and crowd out their pro-life speech.

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“Staffed predominantly by women, over two thousand pregnancy resource centers and pregnancy medical clinics across the United States offer alternatives to abortion and post-abortion counseling…” a brief from women served by pregnancy centers explains. “Rather than supporting and promoting these ‘neighbor-helping-neighbor’ efforts, the state of California has enacted a law that purposefully targets pregnancy centers with burdensome requirements that go directly against their mission.”

The Supreme Court has not set a date yet to hear the case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra.

Other courts have invalidated or mostly invalidated similar laws in Austin, Texas; Montgomery County, Maryland; Baltimore; and New York City.

The California law, which was co-sponsored by the radical pro-abortion group NARAL, demands unlicensed pregnancy centers post a notice advertising abortions and abortifacients in 48-size font in each language required (up to 11 languages and 22 pages) at both the entrance to their clinic and in a visible location within the waiting area. In addition, it also must be included on their websites and in every promotional material they publish with a font size and/or color that draws more attention to it than the other words on the page.

The required notice reads: “California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [insert the telephone number].”

Furthermore, the law charges a cumulative fine of $1,000 for every repeated instance that the notice is not communicated to a client. This law sabotages freedom of speech by forcing organizations to encourage actions that are in direct opposition to their religious beliefs and counter the mission and purpose of their organizations.

The law provides an exemption for clinics that already sell abortions. They are not required to advertise the free or low-cost abortion option. Its sponsors either believe naïvely that employees will advertise direct competition to their company’s financial gain or they wish to give greater protections for a company’s bottom line than for a person’s constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.