Adding to a mounting pile of fees for unconstitutional state mandates against pro-life organizations, California has been ordered to pay three pregnancy help centers and a conservative law firm $399,000 following a major loss at the Supreme Court last summer.
The order comes four years after California enacted the “Reproductive FACT Act” (AB 2775), which forced pro-life medical clinics to promote abortion by posting advertisements on their websites and waiting room walls. That mandate sparked a legal battle that was eventually brought to a halt in a 5-4 ruling by the Supreme Court in NIFLA v. Becerra last June.
Writing for the Court, Justice Clarence Thomas said the law “unduly burdens protected speech.”
In October, a district court declared the law unconstitutional, granting a permanent injunction against it.
Drawing the case to a close last week, U.S. District Court Judge Terry Hatter for the Central District of California said the state would have to pay $399,000 in legal fees and other costs to the Pregnancy and Family Resource Center of San Bernardino, His Nesting Place of Long Beach, Birth Choice of the Desert in La Quinta, and the Liberty Counsel.
The California order comes just as the state of Hawaii prepares to pay $60,000 in legal costs to pro-life pregnancy centers for their own law that violated free speech rights, and five months after the city of Baltimore’s spending board voted to pay $1.1 million to cover the legal fees of Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns for a similar city ordinance.
“Big Abortion is costing taxpayers extraordinary amounts of money to deny women accurate information about their options,” said Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International, a global network of 2,600 pregnancy help organizations. “If they truly believe in ‘choice,’ they will listen to the courts and let pregnancy centers serve women and their unborn children, unhampered by dictates that contradict their deeply held beliefs.”
As costs climb for taxpayers across the country, the abortion lobby continues to target the free speech rights of pregnancy help centers. Right now, Connecticut is considering a measure that would ban pro-life pregnancy centers from advertising themselves in a way that the state deems “false, misleading or deceptive.”
Jeanneane Maxon, J.D., associate scholar for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, submitted testimony against the bill last week, arguing that the legislation discriminates against pregnancy centers and highlighting the financial costs that will come with a lawsuit against the legislation.
“The proposed regulation raises clear Constitutional concerns,” Maxon wrote. “When successfully challenged in a court of law, the Raised Bill will result in the unnecessary waste of public resources and funds that could be used to provide for the citizens of Connecticut.”
In 2017, pregnancy help centers in the United States served nearly 2 million clients with free services (such as ultrasound scans, material resources, and parenting classes), saving their communities over $161 million. There are approximately 2,750 serving families all across the country.
“Pregnancy service centers are credible institutions held to high standards set by professionals in the industry,” Maxon said. “Pregnancy service centers comply with laws and offer a tremendous service to their communities saving millions of dollars annually. The proposed regulation seeks only to unfairly discredit these worthy organizations and will ultimately harm the clients and communities they serve.”
LifeNews Note: Katie Franklin is managing editor for Pregnancy Help News and content writer at Heartbeat International. She previously served as director of communications for Ohio Right to Life and is a graduate of Denison University where she earned a B.A. in history in 2013. Katie lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Miles and daughter Elizabeth.