By Stephanie Curry, an attorney and policy manager for Family Policy Alliance
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear its first abortion-related case since the appointment of Neil Gorsuch. The case, NIFLA v. Becerra, will have enormous implications for the nation and the pro-life movement. As we discussed in the article “Should Pregnancy Centers Be Forced to Become Abortion Advertisers?,” the major question Supreme Court Justices will be addressing is whether the state of California can force pro-life, crisis pregnancy centers to advertise state-sponsored abortion clinics.
There are well over 3,000 crisis pregnancy centers throughout the U.S. that provide free resources to women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy. These centers support the life of the mother and child by providing free resources like ultrasounds, maternity clothing, baby clothes, parenting classes and much more.
One service most pregnancy centers provide, which has been the subject of this recent controversy, are referrals. Pregnancy centers offer referrals for housing, career development, counseling or adoption.
But one referral you won’t find at most pregnancy centers is a referral for an abortion. The mission of most pregnancy resource centers is to provide encouragement, love, and support to a woman who is experiencing anxiety or fear because of an unplanned pregnancy. These centers fill in a gap offering prenatal care and real family planning services to help women that might feel their only alternative is an abortion.
Yet, in October 2015, California’s “Reproductive FACT Act” was enacted, requiring that life-supporting pregnancy centers provide women and families a referral to state-sponsored abortion clinics. Pro-life pregnancy centers would also be required to post large signs on their walls offering “free or low-cost access” to abortions. If the pregnancy centers refuse to post a sign, they could be fined and sued by the State of California. Many pregnancy centers are faith-based, and their very mission is to protect the life of the baby by providing referrals for alternatives to abortion, like adoption.
It is not only outrageous, but also unthinkable – based on our First Amendment – that pro-life organizations can be forced by the state to promote values that directly oppose their very reason for being.
That’s why Family Policy Alliance and dozens of our state allies joined in producing and presenting a powerful legal brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in advance of this case being heard. That effort was led by California Family Council, our allied organization in the Golden State.
As our legal brief states: “It is hard to imagine a greater imposition on individual conscience. It is hard to imagine a more repugnant form of forced speech” than one that forces life-giving organizations to give referrals to abortion clinics.
We stand with our state allies to fight for religious freedom and the rights of organizations like NIFLA to be free to practice their First Amendment rights. We especially stand for the right to life and the ability of pregnancy centers to strengthen families. For many years, Family Policy Alliance and our state allies have fought in state legislatures to protect and honor the work of pro-life pregnancy centers—and with your help, we won’t stop advocating for these amazing ministries.
What You Can Do: Please pray for the Supreme Court hearing today. Pray that a majority of the justices will rule based on the weight of the legal arguments in the Alliance’s brief and in the oral presentation by our ally, attorney Michael Farris with Alliance Defending Freedom. Please also continue to partner with Family Policy Alliance as we work to protect prolife organizations in your state and every state.