The pro-life movement scored a pretty important victory on the side of life this week after Mississippi passed the nation’s toughest restrictions on abortion. The new law restricts abortion past 15 weeks.
On Tuesday the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in another landmark abortion case regarding free speech and conscience issues.
In the state of California, so-called “pregnancy crisis centers” (which typically follow a pro-life model of healthcare for pregnant women in need) are required by law (the FACT ACT) to inform their pregnant clients about state funding for abortion as well as provide them with a list of abortion providers, before they offer other services. They are also compelled to post notices in their facilities advising women of other pro-abortion providers.
“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 eligible women.”
The National Institute of Family Advocates (NIFA) immediately launched a lawsuit, claiming the law violates First Amendment rights.
“California imposes this compelled speech only on centers that oppose abortion,” the group says. “The Act does not impose these compelled statements across the board but uses broad exemptions to exclude health providers that provide or promote abortion or abortifacients. Therefore, the only ones forced by the State to speak these government messages are those who oppose abortion.”
On Tuesday that lawsuit will finally see it’s day in front of the Supreme Court as oral arguments begin.
The state’s attorneys claim that they are just making sure women who seek pregnancy services outside of government funded options, they should be made aware of those specific government services, regardless of the moral mandates of the facilities.
Attorneys for the state argue the FACT ACT provides needed information. “A woman who seeks advice and care during pregnancy needs certain basic information to make informed decisions and obtain appropriate, timely medical care,” they argue. “When she is offered assistance by a facility that provides pregnancy-related services of a type the public may associate with medical clinics, she needs to know whether the entity she is dealing with is in fact a state-licensed clinic staffed with regulated professionals.”
“And when she visits a state-licensed clinic that caters to those not covered by private insurance or already enrolled in public programs and provides less than the full spectrum of relevant health care,” they say, “she needs to know that there are state resources available to access additional care if she wishes to do so.”
As NIFA points out, such a law requires that pregnancy crisis centers specifically violate their stated mission of supporting the live births of children.
They hypocrisy is so blatant it seems ludicrous. Pregnancy centers (which are staffed with trained and licensed medical professionals despite smears from the pro-abortion movement) that provide free or low-cost medical and counseling services are required to inform their clients of services that are in direct contradiction to their mission. Pro-abortion centers like Planned Parenthood are under no such mandate to provide information about pro-life options for their clients before discussing abortion.
Even more disturbing is that these crisis centers are being compelled by their own government to adopt speech that they explicitly reject in the values of their organizations. Such a case could have chilling ramifications that extend far beyond the abortion debate in this country.
Should the government be allowed to force privately operating entities to adopt speech that explicitly support that government’s moral positions, regardless of said entity’s own position? Would this even be up for argument by the pro-abortion movement if the law were aimed at forcing abortion center to provide information about pro-life options and programs?
Of course, we know the answer to this question.