By Elissa Graves, Alliance Defending Freedom
From the moment a woman finds out that she is going to be a mother, she is bombarded with the opinions of others.
The list is nearly endless. There are opinions on whether babies should sleep with mom, whether mothers should work, and whether parents should let their babies cry themselves to sleep – to name just a few. As a soon-to-be first-time mom, I know firsthand how overwhelming all of these voices can become.
But for expectant moms experiencing unplanned or crisis pregnancies who seek help from compassionate pro-life pregnancy centers in the State of California, there is another, more powerful voice that wants to throw its opinions—and weight—around: the government.
The State of California wants to make sure that mothers know they can get free abortions provided by the state – and it wants to force pro-life pregnancy centers to relay that message.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates against this California law, which was enacted in 2015. And we have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear this case and protect the right of pregnancy centers not to be forced to promote a message against their beliefs.
Under the law, pro-life pregnancy centers are required to post a message that declares: “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 [telephone number for local health department].”
When a woman calls that number, she is referred to a local abortion clinic where she can get a free abortion.
These pro-life pregnancy centers provide valuable medical services such as pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, and limited prenatal care to women. These centers exist to provide the women that walk into their clinic – and their babies – with the best care and the best options possible. Referring these women for a procedure that kills the baby and threatens the mother with physical and emotional harm directly contradicts that mission.
Yet, the moment a mother walks into a pro-life pregnancy center, the state wants her to know that she can get an abortion on the state’s dime, pressuring her into a decision about her pregnancy. These pro-life pregnancy centers are forced to speak a message which goes against their very reason for existing, and they are required to promote California’s pro-abortion opinion to every expectant mother that walks through their doors.
On top of that, California law requires non-medical pregnancy centers – which provide pregnancy tests, valuable material goods (including items such as diapers, wipes, clothing, and formula), parenting classes, and compassionate counseling – to post a sign which emphasizes that it is not a licensed healthcare facility. California wants to immediately stamp such centers with its disapproval, encouraging women to go elsewhere.
These women walk into pregnancy centers often scared, alone, and seeking help. They often want to keep their babies, but are terrified that they won’t be able to provide for their children. They are emotionally drained and often without support.
Pro-life pregnancy centers exist to serve women in their time of need and to provide caring and compassionate assistance, empowering them to allow their unborn child to live. But the State of California wants to make clear to every woman entering a pregnancy center that it does not approve of the views of the center and instead encourages women to consider abortion.
We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will grant our request, which they are scheduled to consider on September 25, and uphold the freedom of pro-life pregnancy centers to be free from speaking the government’s pro-abortion message.
That would be one less opinion for pregnant women in need to worry about.
Editor’s note. Elissa Graves, Esq., serves as legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom.