Supreme Court agrees to hear pro-life challenge to compelled pro-abortion speech

By Dave Andrusko

In late October, we wrote there was a growing sense that the Supreme Court would weigh in one of the most significant free-speech (or in this compelled speech) cases of our time. That was confirmed this morning when the Los Angeles Times’ David Savage wrote, “The justices are to hear arguments in NIFLA vs. Becerra early next year and issue a ruling by late June.” [Xavier Becerra is the pro-abortion state Attorney General.]

National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra is a challenge to a 2015 California state law– the state’s so-called Reproductive FACT Act — that forces locally funded pro-life medical clinics to advertise taxpayer-funded abortions. The only known instances of the law’s enforcement have occurred in Los Angeles, “where city attorney Mike Feuer has leveraged an obscure law that mandates current signage for local business to force pregnancy medical clinics to comply,” according to Pregnancy Help News’s Jay Hobbs.

Savage describes the fight as “a clash between the state’s power to regulate the medical profession and the Constitution’s protection for the freedom of speech.” He wrote

California lawmakers passed the disclosure law two years ago after concluding the more 200 pregnancy centers in the state sometimes misled or confused women into believing they provided the full range of medical care, including abortions.

With all due respect, this is hooey. The Alliance Defending Freedom describes the Act [AB 775] this way:

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 other abortionists. The law also forces unlicensed pregnancy centers to add large disclosures about their non-medical status in all advertisements, even if they provide no medical services.

Pro-abortionists are nothing if not persistent even though they lose and lose. As we have explained on many, many occasions, courts in Austin, Texas; Montgomery County, Maryland; Baltimore; and New York City have completely or mostly invalidated similar laws.

Pro-lifers succeeded most recently in Illinois. As Hobbs explained

In July a federal judge in Illinois handed down a major victory for religious conscience and free speech protection, granting a statewide preliminary injunction against a 2016 law change that would force pro-life medical providers to refer patients to abortion businesses upon request.

“It is clear that the amended act targets the free speech rights of people who have a specific viewpoint,” Judge Fredrick J. Kapala wrote in his order.

In a prior story, Savage noted that there are three separate appeals pending before the Supreme Court, including the one from the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates. He quotes Jay Sekulow, counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, who wrote that at issue is whether

“the state of California can compel nonprofit, faith-based, pro-life licensed medical facilities, against their religious convictions and identity, to advertise a government program that provides free or low-cost abortions.”

Sekulow, who is appealing on behalf of the LivingWell Medical Clinic and two others, said the disclosure law violates “the principle that one cannot be conscripted into acting as a ventriloquist’s dummy for a government message.”

Aside from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, whose pro-abortion bloodlines run deep, judges are deeply suspicious of the motivation and the infringement on free speech.