Which one of the following is true?
1. Massachusetts has passed a law requiring Alcoholics Anonymous to hang posters at their meetings to advertise where to get alcohol.
2. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed a bill that requires Hindu temples to post signs advising on where to purchase hamburger meat.
3. California’s attorney general is fighting to force pro-life pregnancy centers to refer for abortions.
If you guessed the last one, you are correct.
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 so-called California Reproductive FACT Act to the U.S. Supreme Court 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. After all, if the American Civil Liberties Union truly cares about free speech, why not free speech for pro-life advocates, whose core principles include the fact that unborn children are human ... and that abortion is murder?
Under this California law, pro-life medical centers must post a sign in their waiting area that tells their 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 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 speak 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, through reports at The Intercept, Mother Jones, and elsewhere, has argued that compelling pro-life centers to refer for abortion is no different from requiring abortion clinics to provide informed consent information to mothers who seek abortion. However, the two are not the same.
Abortion is a serious and irreversible surgical procedure that not only takes the life of an unborn child but could also cause serious injury to a woman. As Kermit Gosnell's 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. All surgeries should be highly 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.
It is also notable that NARAL’s objections to the work of pro-life pregnancy centers values are not related to women’s health, but rather to the pro-life philosophy of these 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.
There are limits to free speech. But those limits are well beyond the unconstitutional measure NIFLA is fighting. I hope the Supreme Court will agree, and that sometime in 2018 they will issue a resounding victory for the First Amendment.
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