The Supreme Court ruled today that part of the law in California that forces non-profit crisis pregnancy centers to inform women of low-cost and free abortions provided by the state is likely unconstitutional, in that it would violate the First Amendment. These crisis pregnancy centers are usually Christian and pro-life, which is why this law targeted them.
#SCOTUS blocks California law requiring anti-abortion nonprofits to inform pregnant patients about availability of free or low-cost abortions elsewhere & inability to provide medical help— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 26, 2018
The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that part of California’s crisis pregnancy center disclosure law is unconstitutional and that another part is likely unconstitutional.
The court held in a 5-4 majority opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas that the notice required of licensed clinics under the law “likely violates” the First Amendment, but the notice required of unlicensed clinics “unduly burdens speech” and is unconstitutional.
The law, called the Reproductive Fact Act, was passed in California in 2015 and requires certain clinics and centers that provide family planning or pregnancy-related services — among them pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, prenatal services, and pregnancy or contraception counseling — to post notices. Unlicensed facilities were required to disclose their lack of medical certification, and licensed facilities were required to note that the state provided free or low-cost family planning services, including contraception care and abortion.
In response to the law, an advocacy group called National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) sued the state, alleging it was a violation of their First Amendment rights.
The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit had upheld the law as constitutional, saying that California had the right to regulate “professional speech” and had a valid interest in protecting public health access.
This case was over a preliminary injunction, according to SCOTUSblog, which was denied the courts:
Court holds that the challengers are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the FACT Act violates the First Amendment. The Ninth Circuit is reversed, and the case goes back for further proceedings.
The district court denied the centers’ motion for a preliminary injunction, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed that ruling.
So the case isn’t over, but this is a big victory for these pro-life groups in that the law was blocked by SCOTUS.
According to the AP, “The 5-4 ruling Tuesday also casts doubts on similar laws in Hawaii and Illinois.”
Good. Let’s hope those laws are overturned as well.
For more background on this law, Buzzfeed explains why abortionists hate these pregnancy centers that were targeted by this law:
“Crisis pregnancy centers” — which originated in response to the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the country — are anti-abortion organizations that offer varying degrees of reproductive medical care. Many of them work out of storefronts resembling abortion clinics, and frequently open directly next to the clinics themselves. Many have medical licenses and provide comprehensive care, while others have ultrasound machines and STI testing equipment. But some are unlicensed and only provide counseling, pregnancy tests, and supplies like baby food and diapers. The majority of these centers are religiously affiliated, but many of them show no signs of this affiliations in their clinics.
Because of these characteristics, abortion rights advocates have long argued that the centers’ tactics are to “pose” as abortion clinics in order to “trick” women seeking out abortion clinics. Proponents of crisis pregnancy centers deny this and argue there is no known case of a woman actually being deceived.