California Pregnancy Centers File Lawsuit to Stop New Law Making Them Promote Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 13, 2015   |   9:58AM   |   Sacramento, CA

Pregnancy centers in California have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn a new law pro-abortion Governor Jerry brown signed forcing them to promote abortions. As LifeNews reported, Governor Brown signed the law last week.

The new law forces pregnancy clinics to inform women and girls that California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost abortions for eligible women. These faith-based medical centers must also tell their client to contact the county social services office to see if the pregnant woman qualifies for the free or cheap abortions.

The law will force 150 local pregnancy help non-profits, including the 74 state-licensed free ultrasound facilities, to give each of its clients the following disclaimer, which includes the phone number of a county social services office where a client could obtain an abortion covered by Medi-Cal.

The notice, which the law specifies must either be posted as a public notice in “22-point type,” “distributed to all clients in no less than 14-point font” or distributed digitally “at the time of check-in or arrival,” applies to all of the entities—even those licensed by the state.

“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].”

But now, the Pacific Justice Institute has filed suit.

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Lawsuits were filed by Pacific Justice Institute in federal courts in both southern and northern California in behalf of clinics.  The clinics represented by PJI provide free medical services and counseling as an alternative option to abortion to women facing unwanted pregnancies.

Brad Dacus, president of the PJI stated, ​”Forcing a religious pro-life charity to proclaim a pro-abortion declaration is on its face an egregious violation of both the free speech and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment to the Constitution.  We will not rest until this government mandate is completely halted.”

Claims for violation of freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion are cited in papers filed with the federal courts. The complaint alleges that the law forces Christian medical clinics to proclaim a government message for which the clinics disagree.

“The context of delivering this government message is the center of a public debate over the morality and efficacy of abortion, for which these clinics provide alternatives,” the lawsuit reads.

Kevin Snider is the PJI attorney who is serving as lead counsel on the case.  Snider drafted the complaint which he filed shortly after the Governor signed the bill into law.

Meanwhile, under the new law, pregnancy help centers that do not offer medical services will be required to post the following signage in two “clear and conspicuous” places—“in the entrance of the facility and at least one additional area where clients wait to receive services,” as well as in “any print and digital advertising materials including Internet Web sites”.

The font required is to be “in no less than 48-point type” and will read as follows:

“This facility is not licensed as a medical facility by the State of California and has no licensed medical provider who provides or directly supervises the provision of services.”

“This bill is nothing short of a state-sponsored attack on women by the highly profitable abortion industry,” Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., president of Heartbeat International, which has 45 of its nearly 2,000 affiliates in California, said. “Women desperately need emotional support and practical resources during an unexpected pregnancy. Gov. Brown has made it more difficult for women to find the help they need to make the healthiest decision for everyone involved in an unexpected pregnancy.”

Similar government-sponsored speech for pregnancy centers has been struck down as unconstitutional in Austin (TX), Baltimore and Montgomery County (MD) and New York City.

ACTION: Contact Governor Jerry Brown here to complain about him signing the bill.