Supreme Court Will Decide if States Can Force Pregnancy Centers to Promote Abortions

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 1, 2017   |   6:33PM   |   Washington, DC

Lawyers representing a group of California pregnancy centers recently announced plans to appeal an onerous state law to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The California law, upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in October, forces pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortions.

PJ Media reports Tom Glessner, president and CEO of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, said they are appealing the case to the high court, arguing that the law violates both free speech and religious freedom.

“In essence, the law mandates that pro-life centers become abortion referral agencies, totally against their convictions, against their foundational beliefs, compelling speech,” Glessner told the news outlet during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

“The government cannot compel you or me or a church to present a message that it wants you to present and you disagree with,” he continued. “It just can’t do that. That is an absolute violation of your First Amendment rights.”

Named “The Reproductive FACT Act” by its pro-abortion authors and passed through both houses of the California State Legislature on a party-line vote, the law is the subject of multiple lawsuits. The law forces about 150 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 taxpayer-funded Medi-Cal.

“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],” the disclaimer reads.

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.

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Glessner’s organization and the Alliance Defending Freedom filed one of the lawsuits challenging the law.

“A government that tells you what you can’t say is dangerous, but a government that tells you what you must say — under threat of severe punishment — is terrifying,” ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman said in a statement.

Glessner said they expect to argue their case in the fall, if the Supreme Court decides to take it.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is one of the most overturned appeals courts in the country because of the left-wing positions that it often takes on issues such as abortion.

In January, the Pacific Justice Institute also announced plans to appeal its challenge to the law to the Supreme Court on behalf of a group of California pregnancy centers.

Jay Hobbs of Pregnancy Help News reported more:

Since the law took effect Jan. 2016, three pregnancy centers have had the law enforced against it—all three of which were under the jurisdiction of Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who leveraged an obscure business signage law against the nonprofits to force compliance in May of 2016.

Pacific Justice Institute represents three of the affected medical clinics throughout the state in a lawsuit, while the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) represents three more.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represents two clinics and a national affiliation group, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), argued the case before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last October.

It is expected that all three challenges to the state’s law will be appealed to the Supreme Court over the first several weeks of 2017.