Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit legal organization that works to defend religious liberty, has filed a complaint in federal court against a California law that forces pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to promote abortion providers.
The Reproductive FACT Act, recently approved by the California Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Calif., requires pregnancy centers to post the following notice:
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].
The law also requires crisis pregnancy centers that are not licensed medical facilities to post a notice that they are not licensed.
Under the law, facilities that fail to comply are liable to face a civil penalty.
In an interview with The Daily Signal, Elissa Graves, litigation counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said the legislators in the state of California are trying to force pro-life pregnancy centers to comply “with their pro-abortion agenda.”
“Most of the crisis pregnancy centers in California are religious organizations who are working to protect life as part of their religious beliefs,” Graves said. “This law essentially requires them to provide a referral for abortion.”
Graves said similar laws have been struck down by courts in other states.
Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said that “Alliance Defending Freedom has a very good chance of winning the civil rights lawsuit it has filed against California, given that courts have thrown out similar laws in Texas, Maryland, and New York.”
“The First Amendment doesn’t just prevent the government from censoring speech; it also prevents the government from compelling speech. This California pro-abortion statute is a classic example of government-compelled speech,” von Spakovsky said.
In a statement, California Attorney General Kamala Harris said she was “proud to have co-sponsored” the law, “which ensures that all women have equal access to comprehensive reproductive health care services, and that they have the facts they need to make informed decisions about their health and their lives.”
Amy Everitt, the state director of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League’s California affiliate, said in a statement, “This is what it looks like to respect women: empower us and trust us to make the best decisions for ourselves and our families.”