Should pregnancy resource centers be forced to provide info on abortion? We don’t force weight-loss clinics to post where someone can get fried food, nor do we force drug counseling centers to direct people to where they can buy cocaine. People go to pregnancy resource centers because they are choosing life. No one goes to a pregnancy resource center because they want an abortion.
Imagine this. You finally decide to go to the gym because you know you need to be healthier. You know getting in shape is the best thing for you. You walk in, expecting to be given some weights or a jump rope, but instead they hand you a giant piece of chocolate cake, and a large fizzy coke. They also give you a binder of recipes for future use. Cookies, donuts, lasagna.
This doesn’t fit. This is counterproductive. This goes against the whole belief system and culture of a gym. It directly opposes their message and their goal for the people who walk through their doors.
Now imagine this. You are dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. You walk into a local pregnancy resource center to get some much needed support. As you wait for your turn to be seen, you read the flyers on the bulletin board. The most prominent flyer provides abortion information. This also doesn’t fit. And is extremely unfair that the pregnancy resource center is being forced to share about abortion under threat of punishment.
This is why the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) is arguing in front of the Supreme Court about an October 2015 law that requires pregnancy resource centers to post a disclosure to inform clients that “California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services, prenatal care and abortion for eligible women.” The law also allows prosecutors to penalize clinics with a fee of $1,000 for the first offense and $500 for the second offense if they don’t comply.
“The Reproductive Fact Act…mandates that medical pro-life pregnancy centers post a notice in their waiting room in 22 point type or provide written or digital information to their patients on how to obtain a state funded abortion. Non-medical pregnancy centers must also post in 48 point type a statement saying that they are not medical and that they have no physician on staff”, according to NIFLA.
NIFLA claims that the law violates their First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion. But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the argument and upheld the law — arguing that the state could regulate professional free speech and the law protects public health interests. On November 13th, the Supreme Court agreed to review NIFLA’s case.
Thomas Glessner, President of NIFLA asks, “Can the government impose and compel a faith-based ministry to proclaim a message that they are fundamentally opposed to with the risk of being fined or shut down?”
If NIFLA wins this case, it would mean that the government cannot force people to share a message that directly goes against their conscience. We should, as Americans be free to speak, or not speak about our convictions.
If NIFLA loses, then more states will begin to force pregnancy centers to clearly post flyers that provide abortion information.
NIFLA will be represented by the nonprofit, Alliance Defense Freedom. Denise Harle, legal counsel for the ADF, said: “It is unjust for the government to force anyone to speak a message they disagree with — and to punish them if they don’t.” This seems pretty clear cut. This is about abortion politics, yes. But the underlying message here is freedom of speech. And our Supreme Court values that, so hopefully they will overturn this law that wrongly squelches that freedom.
Thomas Glessner stated the following: “This Act is an outrageous unconstitutional violation of the rights of free speech and freedom of religion for our California members. The Act unconstitutionally forces pro-life pregnancy centers, on pain of government penalty, to engage in government disclaimers that they would not otherwise provide, and to provide abortion referral information to their patients/clients. It further violates the federal Coats-Snowe Amendment, which prohibits requiring medical clinics to make referrals for abortion.”
Much like chocolate cake at a workout class, abortion information is out of place and harmful to the cause and the goal of pregnancy resource centers across our country.