Pregnancy Centers Ask Supreme Court to Overturn California Law Forcing Them to Promote Abortions

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Oct 30, 2017   |   11:24AM   |   Sacramento, CA

California pregnancy centers could hear any day now if the United States Supreme Court will hear their appeal for relief from a pro-abortion state law.

The Los Angeles Times reports three separate groups of pro-life pregnancy centers have filed appeals to the high court; and the justices could decide whether to hear them as early as Monday.

Their cases involve a pro-abortion California law that forces pregnancy centers to promote abortions. Deceptively named “The Reproductive FACT Act” by its pro-abortion authors, the 2016 law is the subject of multiple lawsuits. It forces about 200 pregnancy help non-profits to either promote taxpayer-funded abortions through the state or face heavy fines.

Jay Alan Sekulow, an attorney for the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing several pregnancy centers, said the case is about whether California can “compel nonprofit, faith-based, pro-life licensed medical facilities, against their religious convictions and identity to advertise a government program that provides free or low-cost abortions.”

Sekulow said the law violates “the principle that one cannot be conscripted into acting as a ventriloquist’s dummy for a government message.” ACLJ is representing the LivingWell Medical Center and two other non-profits in the lawsuit.

Here’s more from the LA Times:

The justices have considered the appeals for more than three weeks in their weekly conferences, suggesting at least several of them are inclined to hear the cases.

Recently, lower courts have split on controversies arising from state regulations of medical professions.

an appeals court in 2014 struck down most of a New York City ordinance that required pregnancy centers to notify patients whether they “provide [abortions] or provide referrals for abortion.” The 2nd Circuit Court said this provision “mandates discussion of a controversial political topic” and is therefore unconstitutional.

However, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to block California from enforcing its law in 2016, saying the state has the authority to regulate “professional speech” when it is in patients’ best interest.

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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.

“This law is like forcing the Sierra Club to advocate for oil spills or demanding St. Jude expose their patients to lead poisoning,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which is representing another group of California pregnancy centers. “However, this law is actually much more repulsive. While those situations might cause unintended harm, abortion is intended – even specifically designed – to kill.”

The law provides an exemption for clinics that already sell abortions. They are not required to advertise this free or low-cost 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.

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