A young girl holds up a pro-life sign at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., in 2013 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A young girl holds up a pro-life sign at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., in 2013 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

California has a reason for its requirement that pro-life crisis pregnancy centers promote local abortionists: It thinks women are stupid.

That’s how the Alliance Defending Freedom sums up the state’s attitude in a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court defending the non-profit centers in their lawsuit against a state law forcing them to violate their faith-based beliefs regarding abortion.

“California’s arguments about preventing confusion sound in paternalism and exude a low view of women navigating unplanned pregnancies,” says the new ADF filing.

“The state assumes these women are unable to make phone calls, search the internet, or ask basic questions of prospective service providers.”

The California case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates vs. Becerra,  centers on whether local governments can require pro-life crisis pregnancy centers – where women can get counseling, diapers, rent money and more – to inform their clients of free local abortion services and provide contact information.

Several courts already have said no, citing First Amendment free-speech protections.

In California, however, judges have insisted the state law is not a free-speech issue.

A video on the issue:

“No one should be forced to provide free advertising for the abortion industry – least of all pro-life pregnancy centers,” said ADF President Michael Farris, who will argue the case before the high court on March 20.

“Yet here, the government designed this statute to single out pro-life pregnancy centers and force them to use their walls as billboards to point the way to abortion.”

Farris noted California “argues that this law is needed because pregnant women are unaware of all of their options, which include abortion.”

“That’s simply not true. Information about abortion is widely available, and the government has many other ways it can do what it wants to without trampling on the First Amendment protected freedoms of pro-life advocates,” he said.

The law, California AB 775, requires licensed medical centers that offer free, pro-life help to pregnant women to post a disclosure saying that California provides free or low-cost abortion and contraception services.

The disclosure must also include a phone number for a county office that refers women to Planned Parenthood and others in the abortion industry. The law also forces unlicensed pregnancy centers to include in their advertisements a disclaimer in large type and in multiple languages stating they are non-medical facilities, which, ADF argues, obscures their pro-life speech.

The newest brief on behalf of the pregnancy centers contends the state is targeting a specific group “for disfavored treatment.”

“It does so by gerrymandering a statute that commandeers those centers’ speech while letting alone countless others that would further the state’s asserted interests.”

It points out that the centers hold pro-life views as a matter of deeply held religious belief, but California insists they say “what their conscience cannot allow.”

“California does not stop there. As part of this targeted scheme, it places facially onerous advertising burdens on the pro-life unlicensed centers – unlike anything required elsewhere under California law. … This is obviously designed to hamper the centers’ efforts to reach their audience,” the filing states.

“A law that inserts the government’s message into discussions about deeply divisive issues is dangerous. It threatens ‘to suppress unpopular ideas or information… through coercion rather than persuasion.’ The act does just that, singling out faith-based charities whose mission nis to support women in choosing motherhood without fear or cost.”


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