California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that orders faith-based organizations to refer women to abortionists, even though the same idea was tried in New York and failed.
Brown’s signature on AB 775 already has triggered a series of lawsuits, because it forces religious pregnancy clinics to tell women and girls that California has public programs to provide immediate, free or low-cost abortions.
The Pacific Justice Institute announced Monday the filing of lawsuits in both Southern and Northern California on behalf of clinics.
The organizations provide free medical services and counseling “as an alternative option to abortion to women facing unwanted pregnancies,” the organization said.
“Forcing a religious pro-life charity to proclaim a pro-abortion declaration is on its face an egregious violation of both the free speech and free exercises clauses of the First Amendment,” said Brad Dacus, president of the institute.
“We will not rest until this government mandate is completely halted,” he said.
The complaint argues the law forces Christian medical clinics to issue messages that violate their beliefs.
“The content of the government message memorialized in AB 775 directly contradicts the foundational religious principles upon which A Woman’s Friend operates, as well as the message it conveys to its clients regarding abortion,” the complaint explains. “As a result, A Woman’s Friend is subject to imminent adverse enforcement action against it by defendant.”
The law’s message is: “California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including allocating 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).”
It also requires that the message not only be handed out but also posted on the walls of waiting rooms on signs with specified dimensions.
The clinic, A Woman’s Friend, “offers, and will continue to offer, to women and girls a variety of services at its clinic.”
“Said services include medical consultations, pregnancy testing, ultrasound examinations and medical referrals. The plaintiff also provides education related to sexually transmitted diseases and infections, information and abortion procedures, prenatal education, nutrition information and fetal development education.
“They also provide Bible-based post abortion emotional and spiritual healing and recovery courses, and other practical support related to pregnancy,” he said.
It does not, the complaint explains, “counsel girls and women to obtain abortions.”
“A Woman’s Friend holds the biblically based conviction that human life is a precious gift of immeasurable value given by God and that the taking of innocent human life by abortion is evil and a sin.”
The second organization cited in the complaint is the Crisis Pregnancy Center of Northern California, which offers services similar to A Woman’s Friend.
For both, the complaint states: “The requirement that plaintiffs disseminate the state of California’s message for which the clinic disagrees violates its rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, as made applicable to the state through the Fourteenth Amendment. The law mandates speech that plaintiffs would not otherwise make.”
It continues, “At a minimum, the act unconstitutionally compels plaintiffs to speak [a] message that they have not chosen, with which they do not agree, and that distract, and detract from, the messages they have chosen to speak.”
The lawsuit seeks a judgment that the law is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.
“The context of delivering this government message is the center of a public debate over the morality and efficacy of abortion, for which these clinics provide alternatives,” the lawsuit reads.
WND reported the resolution to a similar case in New York.
At the time, constitutional attorney Herbert W. Titus of William J. Olson, P.C. told WND that according to the First Amendment, you “can’t be forced to carry someone else’s message.”
In New York, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals said the state could require crisis pregnancy centers to disclose whether they have a licensed medical provider on staff but not whether the center provides abortions or referrals, because that runs afoul of the First Amendment.
The ruling was left untouched by the Supreme Court.
Titus, who has taught constitutional law, common law and other subjects for decades at several universities, said it’s “not the government’s business to force anybody to carry the message of anyone else.”
“That is certainly what’s being done here.”
Thomas Jefferson, he noted, described that very action as “sinful and tyrannical.”
“It’s fairly typical of California, [which is] always on the cutting edge of making us more and more like a fascist country, in which the state determines what we can say and what we can’t say,” Titus told WND.
Titus also has served as a trial attorney and special assistant U.S. attorney with the Department of Justice. He holds degrees from Harvard and the University of Oregon and for several years had his own daily radio program. He has testified on constitutional issues before Congress and state legislatures.
The California bill makes no attempt at accommodation.