The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates – a nationwide network of more than 1,400 pro-life pregnancy centers and medical clinics – will be making its case against the California Reproductive FACT Act to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in 2018. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will represent California’s effort to turn pro-life pregnancy centers and medical clinics into abortion referral agencies.
The decision of SCOTUS in this matter will have serious implications for freedom of speech in this country.
Under this California law, pro-life medical centers must post a sign in their waiting area informing patients how to get state-funded abortions. A phone number to call and get the abortion procedure started must be on the sign. Violations of the law could result in massive punitive fines that would potentially close down centers.
This persecution of pro-life pregnancy centers comes after state and federal courts in California, Illinois, Maryland, and elsewhere have found laws like the FACT Act to be unconstitutional free speech infringements.
Mandating that pro-life centers advertise a message with which they fundamentally disagree undercuts the very foundation of the First Amendment. Freedom of speech requires that the government allow speech with which it disagrees.
The abortion industry, as reported by The Intercept, Mother Jones, and elsewhere, has argued that compelling pro-life centers to refer for abortion is “informed consent.” Saying it is no different than abortion clinics required to provide informed consent information to mothers who seek abortion. However, the two are not the same.
Abortion informed consent lets the patient know it is a serious and irreversible surgical procedure. Not only does it take the life of an unborn child, but could also cause serious injury to the mother as well. As the Kermit Gosnell case in Philadelphia shows, women can be seriously maimed and even die from abortion.
Requiring informed consent laws to advise women seeking abortion of the serious medical risks involved is a well-accepted principle in the law. Further, informed consent laws, such as those requiring ultrasound disclosures and other information be provided to women procuring abortions, are necessary because abortion, as even stated by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, objectively ends the life of an unborn child.
Finally, it should be noted that laws regulating abortion centers are targeting medical centers, not free speech, for regulation. Surgerical procedures should be regulated. Arguments to the contrary are merely abortion proponents attempting to get around the same disclosures and standards to which other medical centers doing heart, leg, and other surgeries are held.
NARAL’s objections to the work of pro-life pregnancy centers are not related to women’s health, but rather to the pro-life philosophy of the centers. A Freedom of Information Act request in 2015 showed that a Montgomery County, Md. law with similar requirements as the FACT Act had been crafted solely because of NARAL’s opinion on abortion – not because of any alleged lack of care for women.
Normal limits to free speech involve an abuse of the right, generally resulting in damages, false reports, accusations, slander, libel, etc. No such damages are addressed in the unconstitutional FACT Act that NIFLA is fighting.
Based on other lower court rulings and objective review of the case, the Supreme Court will likely agree. Sometime in early 2018 they will rule on this case. It is expected to be a victory for the First Amendment and pro-life medical centers. However, past history with SCOTUS makes projecting a definite result problematic at best.
Source – H/T Thomas Glessner
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