Unconstitutional CA Law Forces Pregnancy Centers to Promote Abortion


wide-b0827d5e12470eadc96938dbce042ab84879dfeb-s900-c85Imagine a state law that forced Weight Watchers to direct its health-conscious clients to locations where they’d be hard-sold piles of discount bacon. Delicious as Baconalia sounds to me and maybe you, what kind of government would threaten a weight-loss center for merely not promoting the very thing (weight gain) it was created to prevent?

Well, such a state government did pass such a law. And Alliance Defending Freedom is in federal court challenging it. ADF filed a complaint in federal court in October 2015 against the state of California for passing an unconstitutional law that forces pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion. The state law requires licensed medical centers that offer free, pro-life help to pregnant women to direct their patients and clients to state programs that offer free or discounted abortions. The pro-life centers, under the law, even have to give out the phone number for the abortion program!

And the case has generated serious national interest.

Once you get past an absurdly biased headline, you’ll find a well-balanced piece by outstanding New York Times reporter Erik Eckholm, who has previously covered ADF.

Right out of the gate:

“Free Pregnancy Testing,” reads the large sign in front of the East County Pregnancy Care Clinic, on a busy intersection of this impoverished city east of San Diego.

Inside the clinic, a woman will not only get a free pregnancy test, but she will also see a counselor to discuss her options. She will see models of fetuses at early stages of development, which show that “at week 12, you see a recognizable human,” said Josh McClure, the executive director of the clinic. If she is pregnant, she can get a free ultrasound and attend childbirth classes. If she gives birth, she may receive help with diapers and a car seat.

What she will not get from this center is advice on where to obtain an abortion.

Which should surprise no one. Why would a clinic, organized and operating specifically to help women and girls throughout their pregnancies in order that their babies be born, and which provide help to women and girls to care for their babies after they are born, promote abortion? And why would the state want to force pro-pregnancy, pro-baby clinic to promote abortion and punish them if they don’t?

Nonsensical, right? Josh McClure speaks sense:

The clinics argue that the law, which took effect in January, flagrantly violates their rights of free speech, and it appears that many of the dozens of licensed pregnancy centers in California are not yet complying.

“I don’t want to put up a sign telling you where you can go for an abortion,” said Mr. McClure of the clinic here, which is a plaintiff in one of several legal challenges. “The sign is not up here now because it’s unconstitutional.”

Eckholm offers perspective on how the speech coercion campaign has gone so far for would be strong-armers:

Previous efforts in New York City and a few other places to require them to state, upfront, that they do not provide abortion referrals and make other disclosures have been largely struck down by federal courts.

In fact, ADF won cases in federal court in Maryland and New York, protecting pregnancy care centers from government speech coercion and penalties, and pro-life freedom advocates were successful in a Texas case decided in 2014.

Unfortunately and surprisingly, given the free speech wins in other parts of the country and long-cherished constitutional traditions, the pro-life centers in the current California case were denied an injunction that would protect their freedom from the unjust law while the litigation proceeds.

Eckholm’s piece follows earlier, similarly responsible NPR coverage of the same clinic, East County Pregnancy Care Clinic, of El Cajon, Calif.

ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman explains what’s at stake and why it’s important no matter where one may fall on the sanctity of life spectrum:

A government that tells you what you can’t say is dangerous, but a government that tells you what you must say – under threat of severe punishment – is terrifying. Pregnancy centers, which offer real help and hope to women, shouldn’t be punished by political allies of the abortion industry. Forcing pro-life centers to promote abortion and recite the government’s messages is a clear violation of their constitutionally protected First Amendment freedoms. Courts around the country have already rightly struck down these types of laws.

Proponents of such laws have exposed themselves not only as truly “anti-choice,” but also as advocates of unprecedented government intrusion into the hearts, minds, and souls of citizens.

Thankfully, the most elite media (so far) has been responsible in presenting both sides of this urgent, society-shaping story.  This is a service to readers and listeners, who deserve the opportunity to decide whether they support or oppose government-enforced speech coercion of this sort.

There are 12 comments.

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  1. Vice-Potentate Inactive

    Civil disobedience has never looked finer.

    • #1
  2. The Crooked Timber Member
    The Crooked Timber

    When euthanasia becomes legalized across the nation, some sad day in the probably not-too-distant future, expect to see all hospitals and clinics forced to offer assisted suicide to all patients.

    • #2
  3. Greg Scott Contributor
    Greg Scott

    The Crooked Timber: When euthanasia becomes legalized across the nation, some sad day in the probably not-too-distant future, expect to see all hospitals and clinics forced to offer assisted suicide to all patients.

    Right you are, TCT. If it is “legal medical care,” hospitals and doctors won’t be able to “deny care” to patients who “need” it.

    • #3
  4. WillowSpring Member

    Is the law symmetrical?  That is, do abortion clinics need to provide contact information to pro-life clinics?

    • #4
  5. Greg Scott Contributor
    Greg Scott

    WillowSpring: Is the law symmetrical? That is, do abortion clinics need to provide contact information to pro-life clinics?


    • #5
  6. Mate De Inactive
    Mate De

    Nothing brings out the left’s totalitarian instincts like abortion.

    • #6
  7. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller

    The process is the punishment. Without an injunction, these pregnancy centers will be forced to close before the judicial proceedings have concluded. Is that correct?

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Just another example of CA passing outrageous and unconstitutional legislation. I’m so glad to see people standing up and saying, “Not here!”

    • #8
  9. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus

    The Crooked Timber:When euthanasia becomes legalized across the nation, some sad day in the probably not-too-distant future, expect to see all hospitals and clinics forced to offer assisted suicide to all patients.

    Hospitals? Just wait until politicians start complaining about the “selfishness” of those patients who choose not to die.

    • #9
  10. The Forgotten Man Inactive
    The Forgotten Man

    The abortion industry kills innocent babies for money.  Does it surprise anyone that they and their political allies who also receive a portion of the blood money could care less about constitutional rights.  They become more desperate as science, genetics and sonograms pull the curtain back revealing the truth of the evil deeds.

    • #10
  11. Ontheleftcoast Member

    “The PresidentialCare Office of Professional Standards and Accountability has revised its Standard of Care to require that health care providers must ensure that their communications with patients conform to the most current guidelines…..

    Current PCoPSA guidelines require that patients receiving a pregnancy test be provided with contact information for providers of reproductive health services meeting PCoPSA guidelines and forbid providing any patient with information regarding uncovered services.

    It is unlawful for health care providers to request payment for services which are not within PCoPSA guidelines. It is unlawful for health care providers to accept money offered for such services. The minimum penalty for each violation is 125% of the fee requested or accepted.

    It is unlawful for any organization to employ or to provide physical facilities or any form of administrave support for health care providers whose activities fail to comply with PCoPSA guidelines.

    All health care services must be provided under the auspices of PresidentialCare, no health care services may be provided outside of those auspices, and it is unlawful for any health care provider to fail to comply with PresidentialCare guidelines in any patient encounter whether in person or via any written or electronic communication medium.”

    • #11
  12. Nicegrizzly Inactive

    Some years ago I worked at the center pictured and cited in the linked pieces. Back then, it wasn’t a clinic, but a center, as they didn’t yet provide ultrasounds. Staffed by generous and loving volunteers, what they provided for the community and low-income women was substantive.

    I do agree with a statement made in both linked pieces, however. Not all the information provided was medically accurate. Specifically, the stated risks of abortion and hormonal birth control were exaggerated or even untrue. This always really bothered me, and it’s one thing I would confront were I to volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center again.

    Giving inaccurate medical information is not excusable, even in the attempt to prevent a life lost through abortion. Besides being a completely unethical and unprofessional tactic for a medical professional to use, it hurts the pro-life cause. It allows us to be discredited and dismissed. And through it these faith-based organizations turn their backs on their religious obligation to be above reproach.

    Most of all, it’s unnecessary. Abortion doesn’t have to be especially risky for it to be wrong. It doesn’t have to be dangerous in order to take an innocent human life and possibly bring about emotional suffering and guilt. We are right on this, we will be on the right side of history, and untruths are unnecessary.

    • #12

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