By Brittany Jones, Policy Manager
Can the government force a private entity to speak when the thing they are being forced to promote goes directly against their core beliefs—and even their very reason for existence?
That is what the Supreme Court will be deciding this March in a major case called NIFLA v. Becerra. In California, crisis pregnancy centers are being targeted for their message that all life is precious. California’s government has demonstrated clear bias in favor of abortion and is now forcing these pregnancy centers to display advertising for abortion services.
In 2015, the Reproductive FACT Act was passed, requiring that private pregnancy centers advertise taxpayer-funded abortion to the women entering the facilities. Presumably, this Act applies to all facilities that provide care to pregnant women, but in reality the bill only affects crisis pregnancy centers. Ironically, the Act exempts all facilities that are California government insurance providers – which includes all abortion facilities.
Our ally, California Family Council, has been fighting this law since the beginning. Family Policy Alliance, together with over 40 of our state-based family policy allies, have joined forces to submit an amicus brief in this major Supreme Court case on behalf of the pregnancy centers.
The Supreme Court allows entities to file briefs in support of a party in a case. These briefs are known as amicus briefs and are intended to give justices a fuller understanding of the viewpoints on either side of the issue. These can be very important in the decision-making process for justices. In fact, our amicus brief in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, another major abortion-related case from 2016, was cited in Justice Alito’s dissent. These seemingly small documents can have a great effect on the outcome of important cases.
The brief argues that pregnancy centers should not be forced to violate their religious beliefs by conspicuously promoting something they believe is morally wrong and sinful – the killing of a preborn baby. It also argues that the state is compelling speech unconstitutionally. The speech of private entities ought to be protected and only compelled in certain instances. In this case, there is no justification to compel private speech, especially when it interferes a religious belief. The Act is forcing pro-life clinics to essentially become advertisers for the very thing they are fighting against.
We just concluded Sanctity of Human Life month in January, but that does not mean we should stop fighting for the right to life for every child! Please partner with Family Policy Alliance, and our ally in your state, as we advance these critical human rights—the right to life and the right to freely live according to your beliefs.