They’ve fought a good fight. And it’s not over yet.
California lawmakers decided to force licensed pregnancy centers, whose mission is to protect unborn babies, to promote the death of these babies and let women know they might be able to have the deed done on someone else’s dime.
The law also requires non-licensed pregnancy centers to inform women that they’re not licensed by the state.
Three pregnancy centers asked a federal court for a preliminary injunction to stop the law’s enforcement. The court refused. The pregnancy centers appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a brief in the case, but a three-judge panel of that court refused the request last Friday.
The court ruled (PDF) that the Reproductive FACT Act doesn’t violate the First Amendment rights of pro-life pregnancy centers. The panel contended that the pregnancy centers didn’t demonstrate that they’d likely succeed on First Amendment grounds because the law forcing pregnancy centers to promote abortion is “neutral,” doesn’t discriminate against viewpoint, and survives a rational-basis review.
The court held that the notice pro-life pregnancy centers must post — “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” — is narrowly drawn to achieve California’s substantial interests in “safeguarding public health and fully informing Californians of the existence of publicly-funded medical services.”
ADF attorney Matt Bowman, who argued the case before the Ninth Circuit, said that it’s “bad enough if the government tells you what you can’t say, but a law that tells you what you must say—under threat of severe punishment—is even more unjust and dangerous. In this case, political allies of abortionists are seeking to punish pro-life pregnancy centers, which offer real hope and help to women. Forcing these centers to promote abortion and recite the government’s preferred views is a clear violation of their constitutionally protected First Amendment freedoms. That’s why other courts around the country have halted these kinds of measures and why we will be discussing the possibility of appeal with our clients.”