Today, Alliance Defending Freedom filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court asking them to review a case out of California, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. At stake is the right of pro-life pregnancy centers not to be forced by the government to speak a message that violates their beliefs and undercuts their speech.
Seems like it should be straightforward.
After all, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Riley v. National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina that the government cannot coerce speech that undermines an organization’s message.
But that’s exactly what the California law in question does.
The law states that licensed pro-life pregnancy centers must refer for abortions, even giving out the phone number to call. And if the pregnancy center is unlicensed in the state of California, they must let their patient know immediately that they do not have a licensed medical professional on staff, rather than simply letting the centers communicate this naturally in conversation.
This law is problematic for several reasons:
- The government is forcing these pro-life centers to promote something that goes against their very mission: abortion.
- These laws specifically target pro-life centers. They do not affect pro-abortion clinics such as Planned Parenthood.
- The government wants to force these pregnancy centers to say what the government wants them to say, when the government wants them to say it.
That is why ADF is asking that the Supreme Court correct this unconstitutional law. The government should never force anyone to speak a message with which they disagree.
Yet, this is not the only law of its kind. There is a similar law in Illinois, requiring pro-life healthcare professionals and pregnancy centers to refer for abortions and to refer pregnant women for counseling stating that abortion has “benefits” and is a “treatment option” for pregnancy.
Thankfully, a court halted enforcement of the Illinois law, stating in the ruling: "Why must the State, which licenses and regulates those who provide the objected-to services, rely on the very people who object to the services to be the source of information about them?"
The state should not force pro-life healthcare professionals into abortion advocacy. Period. The Supreme Court now has the chance to make this clear.
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