WASHINGTON, D.C. – Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief today [Jan 16] in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, one of four cases brought before the Supreme Court by crisis pregnancy centers challenging the law as a violation of the First Amendment guarantees of free speech and free exercise of religion.
The Supreme Court has agreed to review the California Reproductive FACT Act, which compels pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to post notices regarding the availability of free and low-cost abortions in their physical clinics, printed material and online. The Court agreed to review the NIFLA case on the limited question of “whether the disclosures required by the California Reproductive FACT Act violate the protections set forth in the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Liberty Counsel’s case, Mountain Right to Life v. Becerra, will be held at the Court until it resolves the NIFLA case, likely this spring. Liberty Counsel represents three pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in Southern California, all of which offer women experiencing crisis pregnancies resources, counseling, advice and alternatives to abortion.
All of the centers are faith-based and will not refer women for abortions. Under the California law, Pregnancy and Family Resource Center (San Bernardino), and all other licensed pregnancy counseling centers in the state are required to post the following government-prescribed message in their facilities and in their advertising or be fined $500 for the first violation and $1,000 for each additional violation:
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. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [insert the telephone number].
His Nesting Place (Long Beach), Birth Choice of the Desert (La Quinta), and other centers not licensed by the State of California must post a notice that they are not a licensed medical facility in all print and online advertising and in their physical facilities or face the same fines. The notice for unlicensed clinics consists of an announcement that the clinic is a not a medical facility and has no doctor on staff. It must be written in 48-point type in up to 12 languages, depending on the county. His Nesting Place has to post notices in 12 languages and Birth Choice of the Desert has to post in two languages.
Liberty Counsel challenged the law in federal court on behalf of the three pro-life pregnancy centers because the law violates the United States Constitution’s guarantees of freedom of speech and free exercise of religion in the First Amendment. In that case, a federal district court judge and a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Liberty Counsel’s request for a preliminary injunction, finding that it was not likely that the law violates the First Amendment.
“We are hopeful this forced speech law will be overturned by the Supreme Court,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The California law forces crisis pregnancy centers to speak a message that goes directly against their religious beliefs and mission to save lives. The First Amendment protects the right to speak and the right not to speak,” said Staver.
Used with the permission of Liberty Counsel.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.