Victory at the Supreme Court: CA Pregnancy Centers Cannot be Forced to Promote Abortions

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[Image credit: On June 26, Kristen Waggoner, general counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, and other ADF staff members read Justice Clarence Thomas’ opinion in the case NIFLA v. Becerra. Photo courtesy Josh M. Shepherd, the Stream].

In a 5-4 ruling released today the Supreme Court has struck down a California law that forced pregnancy care centers to promote abortions. Oral arguments for the case NIFLA v. Becerra were heard earlier this year.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the opinion for the majority which included Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Alito and Gorsuch. The California Reproductive FACT Act (the law that was legally challenged by National Institute of Family and Life Advocates) was ruled to be unconstitutional, and a violation of the First Amendment’s free speech clause. Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan argued in their dissenting opinions that the pregnancy care centers should be forced to advertise abortions.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that “the people lose when the government is the one deciding which ideas should prevail…. This Court’s precedents are deeply skeptical of laws that ‘distinguis[h] among different speakers, allowing speech by some but not others.’”

Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins said that today’s Supreme Court ruling in NIFLA v. Becerra “put a halt to the abortion industry’s campaign forcing pro-life advocates to act as a sales team for abortion. Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry fought to destroy the free speech rights of pro-life individuals in California who daily work to help women choose life for their pre-born infants. This effort shows the true hypocrisy of abortion advocates who didn’t respect the Constitutional rights of those who love women and their preborn infants.”

Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Michael Farris presented oral arguments in favor of the pregnancy care centers before the Supreme Court earlier this year. In a news release from Alliance Defending Freedom, Farris stated:

“No one should be forced by the government to express a message that violates their convictions, especially on deeply divisive subjects such as abortion,” said ADF President, CEO, and General Counsel Michael Farris, who argued on behalf of NIFLA before the Supreme Court in March. “In this case, the government used its power to force pro-life pregnancy centers to provide free advertising for abortion. The Supreme Court said that the government can’t do that, and that it must respect pro-life beliefs.”

“Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion are essential in a diverse society like ours,” Farris added. “They enable us to coexist peacefully with one another. If we want to have freedom for ourselves, we have to extend it to others.”

Thomas Glessner, president of National Institutes of Family and Life Advocates, told the McClatchy News Service back in March that the law forces about 200 pregnancy centers in California to be “abortion referral agencies.”

“It’s a victory for all the women who rely upon pregnancy resource centers and turn to them for help,” said Catherine Glenn Foster, according to the Stream. Foster is the head of Americans United for Life.

Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court effectively ends the bullying of pro-life pregnancy care centers in California and upholds and reaffirms their First Amendment rights. Today’s ruling is good for the First Amendment, good for women, and good their children.

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