Christian pro-life counseling centers are fighting a mandate from the government in California, based on instructions from NARAL Pro-Choice America to lawmakers there, that they promote abortion even if the procedure violates their faith.
The state has adopted a requirement, in a plan sponsored by the abortionists, that crisis pregnancy centers must promote the state’s offerings for abortion, whether they believe in it, support it, or even whether it offends their deeply held religious beliefs.
The same plan had been adopted in New York, but was dropped after a legal challenge there.
The result is that pregnancy care centers in New York City can continue to “serve women without being forced to speak or post messages that are contrary to their pro-life beliefs or that direct women away from the services the centers offer,” according to officials with the the Alliance Defending Freedom, which fought the state government over the issue there.
In California, the issue is the same, that government officials are ordering pro-life centers – which offer counseling, pregnancy testing kits, housing, baby supplies and other services – to post notices in prominent places declaring they don’t offer abortions. And they must make available information about the state’s abortion programs.
The also has arisen in Montgomery County, Maryland, where WND reported two years ago that officials decided not to appeal an adverse court ruling that halted their plan.
And it’s come up in Illinois, where it currently is the subject of litigation.
In California, there have been several legal challenges launched, involving a long list of pro-life centers.
In one case, Liberty Counsel is representing His Nesting of Long Beach, Pregnancy and Family Resource Center of San Bernardino and Birth Choice of the Desert of La Quinta, all of which offer women experiencing crisis pregnancies resources, counseling, advice and alternatives to abortion.
It recently filed its arguments with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has been asked to impose a temporary injunction against the requirement while full arguments develop in court.
“[California state law] AB 775 requires that these faith-based, crisis pregnancy centers utter a state-drafted, pro-abortion message and encourage women to commit human genocide,” said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel. “This unbelievable government mandate is an example of the evolution of political correctness. This law forces pregnancy help centers and staff to be puppets of the state and channel the state’s abortion message. This forced speech violates the First Amendment.”
The plan adopted by lawmakers, on the support of the NARAL abortionists, imposes a first-time fine of $500, rising immediately to $1,000 for a second offense, on Christian centers that fail to promote abortion as the abortionists demand.
The Christian organizations were accused by the state of “providing medically inaccurate” information to women, based on the face they did not recommend abortion.
The mandate even specifies the size of type and where the information on abortion availability must be posted.
But their “central tenets” include that “human life begins at conception, that abortion destroys human life and that parenting or adoption are preferred alternatives to abortion,” the petition to the 9th Circuit says.
They do not “refer for, recommend, encourage, or facilitate anyone to obtain abortions, as doing so is against [their] mission, core values and beliefs.”
“AB775 compels licensed pro-life pregnancy centers to become the state’s pamphleteers and mouthpieces, advertising the state’s message that free and low cost abortions are available to women facing unintended pregnancies who come to the centers seeking alternatives to abortion.”
The filing explains that the notices demanded by the state are, in fact, “public dialogue outside of a physician-patient relationship, and therefore … at the apex of First Amendment protection.”
In a doctor-client relationship, it explains, physicians can be required to explain the dangers of abortion, but “outside the professional relationship, such a requirement would almost certainly be impermissible compelled speech.”
The Supreme Court has concluded on the issue: “Where the personal nexus between professional and client does not exist, and a speaker does not purport to be exercising judgment on behalf of any particular individual with whose circumstances he is directly acquainted, government regulation ceases to function as legitimate regulation of professional practice with only incidental impact on speech; it becomes regulation of speaking or publishing as such, subject to the First Amendment’s command that ‘Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.'”
The law violates the Constitution because, the brief explains, “it imposes compelled speech on pregnancy care facilities prior to forming a professional relationship with any client, and regardless of whether a professional relationship is ever established.”
It names Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state’s secretary of its Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, Bryan Schneider.
“No state should attempt to rob women of the right to choose a pro-life doctor by forcing pro-life physicians and entities to make or arrange abortion referrals. What’s even worse is that Illinois did this by amending a law designed specifically to protect freedom of conscience,” ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman said in a prepared statement.
A similar plan failed in New York. There, the city’s requirement that pro-life pregnancy centers promote abortion, in violation of their faith, was defeated in a court case settlement.
It provides that pregnancy care centers in New York City can “serve women without being forced to speak or post messages that are contrary to their pro-life beliefs or that direct women away from the services the centers offer,” ADF said.
ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman said New York City’s pro-life pregnancy care centers “should be able to offer free help and hope to the women and children that they serve without unconstitutional interference from the government, and this settlement allows that to happen.”
“The centers will be able to operate without being forced to post or express any messages that conflict with their pro-life beliefs or that encourage women to go elsewhere. The centers have also preserved their right to defend themselves in court again if the city discriminates against them,” he said.
PJI’s president, Brad Dacus, has warned the ruling should be cause for alarm.
“The notion that the government can compel religious non-profits to promote practices antithetical to their values is chilling,” he said.
Attorney Herbert W. Titus of William J. Olson, P.C., who has taught constitutional law, common law and other subjects for decades at several universities, told WND 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,” he said.