SCOTUS to consider California law requiring pregnancy centers to advertise abortion availability

SCOTUS to consider California law requiring pregnancy centers to advertise abortion availability
Thousands of anti-abortion protesters walk past the U.S. Supreme Court building during the 43rd annual March for Life in January in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court said Monday it will consider a challenge to a California law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to post a notice telling their clients where they can go for an abortion. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court said Monday it will consider a challenge to a California law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to post a notice telling their clients where they can go for an abortion, according to NBC News.

What is the law?

The legislation, known as the Reproductive FACT Act, was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.) in 2015. It requires pregnancy centers to post the following notice:

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 law also requires crisis pregnancy centers that are not licensed medical facilities to post another notice:

This facility is not licensed as a medical facility by the State of California and has no licensed medical provider who provides or directly supervises the provision of services.

Crisis pregnancy centers — often religiously affiliated — offer women facing unplanned pregnancy with services such as counseling, parenting classes, and adoption referrals. Some also help with acquiring necessities like clothing and diapers.

What is the challenge?

Opponents of the law say it compels people of faith to make a statement contrary to their beliefs.

Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Kevin Theriot said in a statement that, “Forcing anyone to provide free advertising for the abortion industry is unthinkable—especially when it’s the government doing the forcing.

“This is even more true when it comes to pregnancy care centers, which exist specifically to care for women who want to have their babies,” Theriot said. “The state should protect freedom of speech and freedom from coerced speech. Information about abortion is just about everywhere, so the government doesn’t need to punish pro-life centers for declining to advertise for the very act they can’t promote.”

NBC News noted that California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, has defended the law as “a justifiable regulation of medical practice,” and argued it increases awareness of available services.

The Supreme Court will hear the case early next year and decide it by late June.

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