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Supreme Court of the United States

Generational Wins: Protecting Life Against California’s Discriminatory Law

March 30, 2021

A generational win is a significant victory that changes the law and culture of the nation for a generation. Deliberate action is taken following that victory in order to ensure that it endures for generations to come.

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts that will outline how some key courtroom victories helped protect freedom in five critical areas. See other posts on Religious Freedom, Free Speech, Parental Rights, and Marriage and Family.

Download a PDF version of this post here.

Life

WHO: National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), which represents a network of pro-life pregnancy centers

WHAT: NIFLA v. Becerra

California’s Reproductive FACT Act, AB 775, forced pro-life pregnancy care centers to effectively provide advertising for the abortion industry. The law required these centers, which offer free help to pregnant mothers, to violate their beliefs by informing patients that California provides free or low-cost abortion.

WHEN: ADF filed the initial complaint in 2015. The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case in 2018.

WHERE: The State of California

WHY: Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy may have said it best: “Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions.”

But that was exactly the intent of California’s so-called FACT Act. The law even required pro-life pregnancy centers to provide a phone number for a county office that would refer women to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. The law also forced non-medical pro-life pregnancy centers to add large disclosures about their non-medical status in all advertisements, implying that they were not qualified to offer their charitable services (e.g., providing free diapers, formula, baby blankets, and maternity clothes)—even though the state did not require this of any other types of nonprofits.

THE OUTCOME: In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit’s decision and protected the pro-life pregnancy centers’ freedom of speech.

HOW IT AFFECTS YOU NOW: ADF’s victory in NIFLA limited a growing, nationwide effort by abortion-friendly governments to crush the effectiveness of pro-life pregnancy centers. For example, the NIFLA decision was critical in defending Caring Families Pregnancy Center. In that case, a city law forced pro-life pregnancy centers to begin conversations with a government-scripted disclaimer that undermined Caring Families’ pro-life mission. But ADF successfully cited the NIFLA decision in Caring Families’ defense, protecting them from this compelled speech law.

The NIFLA decision has also had significant recognition in the culture, as President Trump celebrated the outcome on its one-year anniversary.

HOW IT AFFECTS YOUR FUTURE: The NIFLA decision means pro-life pregnancy centers are free to provide care to women and save the lives of countless babies who might otherwise die at the hands of abortionists, without the government telling them what they can say. But the work is far from over. State and local governments across the country continue to attack the free speech rights of pro-life advocates.

We know the threats to religious liberty, free speech, the sanctity of human life, and parental rights will not stop. And when those fundamental rights are violated, ADF stands ready to defend them in courtrooms at every level, all across the nation. That’s exactly what we have been doing for more than 25 years. And with God’s blessing we will continue to do so. Will you join us?

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Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom

Non-profit organization

Alliance Defending Freedom advocates for your right to freely live out your faith


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