Thousands of pregnancy centers across the nation are the counterbalance to the abortion industry by providing women with tangible help and real alternatives to abortion. But pregnancy centers in California may soon find themselves forced to promote abortions under legislation pending in the California legislature.
The state Assembly has passed AB 775, the Pregnancy Counseling Discrimination Rule, would require all pregnancy centers to promote abortions to their clients. There is no conscience clause or opt out for centers that provide pregnant women assistance without abortions or abortion referrals. Failure to comply carries a $500 fine for first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense. The bill authorizes the Attorney General, city attorney, or county counsel to impose the civil fines.
Lori Arnold of the California Family Alliance, says pro-life Californians need to speak up against the bill now that it heads to the California Senate.
Despite passionate opposition from pro-life legislators and thousands of concerned citizens, the California Assembly today voted 46-25 to pass AB 775, the so-called “Reproductive FACT ACT.” This highly controversial and anti-free speech bill now advances to the Senate.
“This bill strikes at the heart of free association, free political and religious speech and practice, and the self-evident truth of biology,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno). “Privately-funded Pregnancy Resource Centers, and the compassionate women who volunteer at them, have a First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech. And it is our duty as officers of the state of California to protect that right, not to assault it.”
Assembly Minority Leader Kristen Olsen (R-Modesto) and Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Chico) also voiced strong opposition to the bill. But despite serious constitutional concerns, the bill passed along party lines, Arnold said.
“This specific vote has been lost, but our battle is only beginning. California Family Council and California Family Alliance continue to work with our coalition partners to educate and inform citizens about this and other threats to Life, Family, and Religious Liberty,” she said.
“California’s grisly abortion industry is in the midst of a government-sponsored boon. In 2013, the state waived safety regulations for abortion clinics (AB 980) and reduced the medical standards required to perform abortions by allowing certain nurses to do the surgeries (AB 154),” she said. “And last year, the California Department of Health cut all medical reimbursements by 10 percent while increasing taxpayer funding of abortions providers by 40 percent.”
“But abortion profiteers like Planned Parenthood and NARAL are still not content with state taxpayers as their sugar daddy. They are now pushing new discriminatory regulations that would force local Pregnancy Care Centers and Clinics (or PCCs, which provide free and confidential support services to pregnant mothers) to advertise and promote chemical and surgical abortions,” Arnold added. “Under the provisions of AB 775 (Chiu, D-San Francisco), PCC’s that provide medical services such as ultrasounds would be required to refer all clients to Medi-Cal programs that provide free abortions. In addition, any non-medical centers that offer free counseling, pregnancy support, and parenting classes would be required to post signage stating they are “not licensed facilities.” Both types of PCCs would also be coerced to include such statements in all advertising.”
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CareNet, one of the largest networks of pregnancy centers in North America, strongly opposes the legislation. In a statement on its website, Eve Marie Barner Gleason, director of Center Best Practices, said the measure is clearly biased in its approach.
“The abortion industry in California has a problem,” she said. “They have already ensured a steady income stream by getting abortion funded by taxpayers through Medi-Cal. But some women choose to seek information and assistance in making a pregnancy decision at centers where they receive accurate information about abortion risks and are empowered to choose life. They see every choice for life as money lost.”
Arnold says market share is undoubtedly a primary motivation for AB 775. “But sadly, it goes even beyond money. The pro-abortion movement will not be satisfied until it silences all opposition to its cause. At the same time, it defiantly rejects its own hypocrisy
Unfortunately, if approved, AB 755 will become a dangerously powerful tool in the anti-life arsenal. As CareNet’s Gleason told her member operators, “You pay for your advertising. Now, they want you to pay for theirs too.”