Pregnancy Centers Ask Court to Stop Law Forcing Them to Promote Abortions

State   Steven Ertelt   Sep 21, 2017   |   2:39PM    Honolulu, HI

Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Ken Connelly and ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot are today standing up for faith-based pregnancy centers. Connelly will present arguments in federal court on behalf of pregnancy care centers challenging a state law which effectively forces them to provide free advertising for the abortion industry.

ADF attorneys represent an Oahu pregnancy care center and a network of pregnancy care centers, with five affiliates in Hawaii, that are asking the court to halt enforcement of the law against them while their case proceeds.

The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, together with Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor’s “A Place for Women” pregnancy care center, filed suit on July 12 to challenge the new law, Senate Bill 501, which went into effect the previous day.

“No one should be forced to provide free advertising for the abortion industry, least of all pro-life centers that exist to help women choose life for their babies,” said Connelly. “Freedom of speech also means the freedom to not express views that violate your conscience. Yet, under this law, the state is forcing pro-life centers and doctors to, in effect, provide free advertising for the abortion industry. Because of the First Amendment’s protections, courts have repeatedly rejected these types of laws as unconstitutional, and accordingly we are asking the court in this case to halt enforcement of this law while our case moves forward.”

SB 501 requires pro-life pregnancy care centers to direct women to a state agency that provides abortion referrals and funding. Specifically, the law requires the centers to post large signs or provide notices which advertise that the “state of Hawaii provides free or low-cost access to comprehensive planning services,” including abortion-inducing drugs. The law also forces the centers to include both a website address and phone number for accessing these services. ADF attorneys point out that the centers are subject to the law regardless of whether they offer free ultrasounds and other prenatal care to women, making the law even more egregious for the centers that don’t provide medical services.

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Other courts have invalidated or mostly invalidated similar laws in Austin, Texas; Montgomery County, Maryland; Baltimore; and New York City. Additionally, ADF attorneys are representing NIFLA in a case out of California that the U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering for review.

The lawsuit, Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor v. Chin, asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii to halt the enforcement of SB 501 and declare it unconstitutional under the U.S. and Hawaii constitutions. It also asks the court to require Hawaii to return federal funds it received which were conditioned on the state’s commitment not to force pro-life pregnancy centers to make abortion referrals. On Sept. 11, Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor additionally filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with regard to the funding violation.

James Hochberg of Honolulu is among the nearly 3,200 attorneys allied with ADF and serves as local counsel for NIFLA and Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor.