California Law Forcing Pregnancy Centers to Promote Abortion Depicts Women as Stupid

Lester Mason
March 20, 2018

It's constitutionally appalling that there should be any such thing as an "abortion exception" to the rigorous standards that the Supreme Court has historically applied to government action that stifle First Amendment rights of free speech and expression.

It points out that the centers hold pro-life views as a matter of deeply held religious belief, but California insists they say "what their conscience can not allow". They accuse California of forcing them to advertise for abortion even though they oppose it. Missouri pre-empted legislation like the FACT Act during the special session Gov. Eric Greitens called past year.

Moreland, who teaches bioethics and law and religion, said the more important question may be what standard the court adopts to evaluate the law.

Calling themselves "Crisis Pregnancy Centers", they are at the heart of a sensitive case going before the United States Supreme Court on Tuesday. This act protects against fake women's health centers that deceive women, lie about medical facts and delay access to comprehensive reproductive care. Its provisions also require unlicensed counseling centers to disclose in advertisements and client notices that they aren't licensed to provide medical care.

The plaintiffs alternately argue that the disclosure requirements amount to content-based restrictions on their First Amendment rights or viewpoint discrimination. There is no current licensing scheme in the state of California for non-medical facilities who distribute baby supplies.

The US has seen an anti-abortion push since President Donald Trump took office in January previous year, with his Republican Party that opposes abortion controlling Congress.

Buchanan said that, if the Supreme Court invalidates California's law, it "would be creating an unacceptable right for organizations to use medically inaccurate information and manipulative tactics to push a political agenda on people simply seeking good health care".


"If one decides this case based on the principle that the government can not compel someone to say something they are opposed to, then I think all of those laws are challengeable", said Wendy Mariner, a Boston University professor of health law.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Planned Parenthood's First Amendment challenge and upheld the Pennsylvania law, saying speech by licensed professionals in the practice of their professions is "subject to reasonable licensing and regulation by the State".

The Ninth Circuit's opinion, authored by U.S. Circuit Judge Dorothy W. Nelson, similarly concluded that abortion was such a special issue that the California Legislature was entitled to regulate far more freely the content of abortion-related speech. "That is a real issue".

Slattery said abortion supporters might want to consider the ramifications if they win the case. But as NIFLA argued in its Supreme Court brief, all the cases that Nelson cited had to do with "informed consent" laws regulating the particular advice that physicians, with their superior medical knowledge, could be required-or not-to give their particular patients regarding abortion, not the general anti-abortion advocacy that is the mission of the pro-life centers.

The California law's lead sponsor, Democratic Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, duly picked up the NARAL baton, asserting that the centers "confuse [and] misinform" pregnant women.

To bolster the argument that legislators were targeting pregnancy crisis centers based on their pro-life views, the plaintiffs point to legislative committee reports quoting the law's author as saying that "Unfortunately, there are almost 200 licensed and unlicensed clinics known as crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) in California", and those facilities "aim to discourage and prevent women from seeking abortions".

CALmatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California's policies and politics.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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