Ethics & Religion
March 8, 2018
Should Pro-Life Centers Promote Abortion?
By Mike McManus
On March 20 the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a peculiar debate:
Should pro-life centers created to persuade pregnant women to keep their
baby - be required to advertise that abortions are provided by the state
California passed a law called the "Reproductive FACT Act" that
specifies that more than 100 privately funded pro-life pregnancy centers
must post a sign directing their clients to a taxpayer-funded abortion
clinics. What's more, any print or on-line advertisements by pro-life
centers must include the state's notice in English and 11 other
languages including Chinese!
It is a "horrendous violation of the free speech rights of pro-life
pregnancy centers," said Thomas Glessner, president and founder of the
National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) which filed the
suit against the State of California, joined by the Alliance Defending
"This law compels pro-life centers to violate their consciences and
promote abortion. As such it cannot and will not stand," Glessner added.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals - the nation's most reversed court -
upheld the law, which is now being appealed to the Supreme Court.
However, in 2016, Riverside Superior Court Justice Gloria Trask granted
a temporary injunction on grounds the law violates California's "freedom
of mind" guarantee as stated in California's 1849 Declaration of Rights.
Trask asserted, "The State can deliver its message without infringing
upon anyone's liberty. It may purchase television advertisements as it
does to encourage Californians to sign up for Covered California or to
conserve water. It may purchase billboard space and post its message
directly in front of Scharpen Foundation's center. In this case, however
virtuous the State's ends, they do not justify the means."
In addition to the law' specific demands of pro-life centers to offer
free ultrasounds, the statute also requires 100 non-medical pro-life
pregnancy centers to post signage proclaiming themselves as such.
Similar measures have been struck down as unconstitutional infringements
of free speech across the country. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals,
in a 2014 decision, derided a comparable New York City ordinance,
calling it "a bureaucrat's dream" with "a deliberately ambiguous set of
standards guiding the application."
At NIFLA's challenge before the Ninth Circuit of Appeals in 2016, the
legal counsel for California's Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, was
unable to say which authorities in the state, counties and cities would
be responsible for enforcing the law.
In fact, the only city in the state which attempted to enforce the law
was Los Angeles where City Attorney Mike Fener tried to apply the law
against three prolife centers.
However, California's law was a model for a similar 2017 mandate in
Hawaii that NIFLA and ADF are also challenging in court. Abortion
advocates have failed in similar efforts to combat pro-life centers in
Austin, TX and Montgomery County, MD - where taxpayers were forced to
pay more than $330,000 in lawyer's fees after LifeSiteNews reported an
unethical collusion between city officials collaborating with the
pro-abortion group, NARAL Pro-Choice America.
There are laws requiring pro-lifers to post signs deterring women from
their services in Oakland, San Francisco, and Hartford, CT. The Supreme
Court's decision is likely to affect all of these laws, as well as
Hawaii and Illinois.
The California law being challenged specifies that there must be posted
as a public notice in "22 point type" or in a paper "distributed to all
clients in no less than 14-point font" at time of check-in or arrival,
to all pregnancy help medical clinics licensed by the state with these
"California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost
access to comprehensive family planning services (including all
FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care and abortion for
If the pro-life centers do not offer medical services, there must be
huge signs "in the entrance to the facility" and an additional sign
where clients wait to receive services, written "in no less than
48-point type" these words:
THIS FACILITY IS NOT LICENSED AS A MEDICAL FACILITY IN THE STATE OF
CALIFORNIA AND HAS NO LICENSED MEDICAL PROVIDER WHO PROVIDES OR DIRECTLY
SUPERVISES THE PROVISION OF SERVICES." (Caps added for emphasis.)
No wonder the pro-life pregnancy medical centers which exist to provide
alternatives to abortion - see the law forcing them to advertise the
state's free abortion - as a direct threat to their First Amendment
freedoms of speech and free exercise of religion.
I predict the Supreme Court will uphold their freedom of speech and
Copyright (c) 2018 Michael J. McManus,
President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. For previous
columns go to
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