Supreme Court to Require Abortion Advertisements?

“Forcing a pro-life group to advertise for abortion has to be unconstitutional, yet that is what California’s Reproductive FACT Act does.”

So says the petitioners, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), in the upcoming case before the Supreme Court, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra.

NIFLA is a Virginia based organization that represents over 1,400 pregnancy resource centers across the country. They give pregnancy resource centers legal advice and help them to convert to medical facilities. That change allows the pregnancy resource centers to provide limited health services – including ultrasounds – which are valuable services for underserved pregnant women.

NIFLA represents several pregnancy resource centers in California.

The conflict coming up to the Supreme Court arises out of the California Reproductive FACT Act, which went into effect in 2016.

This law requires all pregnancy resource centers in California to prominently display several notices to anyone entering their facility. Among these notices required by law is this statement:

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].

Pro-life pregnancy resource centers are being specifically targeted by this law, which doesn’t apply to other organizations that serve pregnant women. Only pro-life pregnancy resource centers have to provide these large notices about free access to abortions.

This is viewpoint discrimination. The state of California is only targeting those who hold a particular viewpoint on the question of abortion. It is clear that the goal of the law, from the start, was to target pro-life pregnancy resource centers. The committee that passed this bill stated that the existence of pro-life pregnancy resource centers in California is “unfortunate.”

Government compelling pro-life pregnancy resource centers to prominently advertise for abortion services is a terrible violation of the First Amendment. It forces anyone who wants to counsel women away from abortion to advertise for the very thing they are working to prevent.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to prevent this law from going into effect in California. It is now up to the Supreme Court to hear the case and protect free speech in California. The case should be heard sometime this summer.