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Hawaii law forces pro-life centers to promote abortion, ADF files suit

Lawsuit says compelled speech law should be struck down like similar statutes in other states

HONOLULU – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing an Oahu pro-life pregnancy care center and a network of pregnancy care centers, with five affiliates in Hawaii, filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against state officials over a law that forces pro-life pregnancy care centers to provide free advertising for the abortion industry.

On May 4, the Hawaii Legislature officially approved Senate Bill 501 and submitted it to Gov. David Ige for his signature. Ige signed the bill into law on Tuesday. Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor’s “A Place for Women” pregnancy care center and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates filed suit to challenge the new law as unconstitutional and halt its enforcement.

“Government is supposed to be freedom’s greatest protector, not its greatest threat,” said ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves. “Americans should always have the freedom to think and speak without fear of unjust government punishment. Freedom of speech also means the freedom to not express views that would violate one’s conscience. Yet, under this law, Hawaii is forcing pro-life centers and physicians to provide free advertising for the abortion industry against their conscience. Because of the First Amendment’s protections, courts have repeatedly rejected these types of laws as unconstitutional.”

SB 501 requires pro-life pregnancy care centers, which offer free ultrasound and other prenatal care to pregnant women, to provide abortion referrals. Specifically, the law requires pro-life pregnancy centers to post large signs or provide fliers which advertise that the “state of Hawaii provides free or low-cost access to comprehensive planning services”—including abortion and contraceptive services—and they must also include both a website address and phone number for the scheduling of those services.

Other courts have invalidated or mostly invalidated similar laws in Austin, TexasMontgomery County, MarylandBaltimore; and New York City. Additionally, ADF attorneys are representing NIFLA in a case out of California that the U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering for review.

“For years, the abortion lobby has preyed on women and girls to generate profits,” added ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “Now pro-abortion politicians are trying to restrict women’s options by requiring pregnancy care center employees, under threat of severe fines, to refer women to the abortion industry.”

The lawsuit, Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor v. Chin, asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii to declare SB 501 unconstitutional under the U.S. and Hawaii constitutions and to halt its enforcement. It also asks the court to require Hawaii to return federal funds it received which were conditioned on the state’s commitment not to force pro-life pregnancy centers to make abortion referrals.

If left unchecked, SB 501 could deprive Hawaii women access to no-cost emotional support and practical resources available at the nonprofit pregnancy care centers serving the state.

James Hochberg of Honolulu is among the nearly 3,200 attorneys allied with ADF and serves as local counsel for Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor. Anne O’Connor of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates is co-counsel.

  • Pronunciation guide: Ige (EE’-gay), Theriot (TAIR’-ee-oh), Hochberg (HOAK’-burg)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.


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