A federal district court in California has issued a permanent injunction which now prohibits the state from enforcing the California Reproductive FACT Act, a law which compelled pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to promote abortion. The court has also ordered the state to pay attorney’s fees and costs to Liberty Counsel.
Liberty Counsel’s case, Mountain Right to Life v. Becerra, was sent back from the U.S. Supreme Court to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which sent it back to the district court, after the High Court ruled in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra that crisis pregnancy centers cannot be forced to promote abortions. Liberty Counsel represents three pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in Southern California: Mountain Right to Life, known as the Pregnancy and Family Resource Center (San Bernardino), His Nesting Place (Long Beach) and Birth Choice of the Desert (La Quinta).
The three pro-life crisis pregnancy centers are faith-based and offer women pregnancy resources, counseling, advice and alternatives to abortion. The California Reproductive FACT Act directly opposed their mission and forced them to endorse the government language promoting the abortion message on their front door, in their waiting room, online and in every advertisement for the crisis pregnancy center. The message had to be printed in 48-point font and in up to 13 languages or the centers could be fined $500 for the first violation and $1,000 for each additional violation.
Lupe Ramos Watson, chief executive officer of Birth Choice of the Desert, said the pregnancy center has been operating for 27 years and, if it wasn’t for Liberty Counsel, “We would have had to shut down.”
Lupe said the main reason new mothers come to Birth Choice is because “they want to break that cycle of poverty and build a better life for their family.” Most clients are facing extreme poverty and often homelessness. “They feel their choices are very slim, and some question how they can be a parent,” said Lupe. For example, Ann* was a drug addict who lived on the streets. When Ann became pregnant, her mother gave up hope to save both her daughter and her unborn grandbaby. She thought abortion was the only option. However, while driving Ann to the abortion center, her mother heard Birth Choice’s advertisement on the radio promoting open adoptions. She immediately turned the car around and drove her daughter to the pregnancy center. They spoke with an open adoption liaison and made a birth plan for the unborn baby, including visitation as the child grew. Now this child has celebrated his 18th birthday and currently lives with his grandmother. They are forever thankful that God provided Birth Choice of the Desert.
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“This is a victory for children, mothers, and families,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Pro-life pregnancy centers will no longer be compelled to speak a message that goes against their mission to save the lives of babies and women. The law violated freedom of speech. The First Amendment protects the right to speak and the right not to speak. Faith-based pro-life pregnancy centers cannot be forced to promote human genocide or close their doors,” said Staver.
*Name changed to protect privacy