“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” –Proverbs 31:8-9 (ESV)
This Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of a California law that compels pro-life pregnancy centers to speak against their own mission by promoting abortion.
There are approximately 200 pro-life pregnancy centers in California that provide free resources to women, men, and families facing unplanned pregnancies – resources like ultrasounds, clothing, parenting classes, and much more. They also provide referrals for other available services including housing, career development, counseling, and adoption.
However, one referral you will not find at these pregnancy centers is a referral for an abortion. Sadly, in 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the so-called “Reproductive FACT Act” to target pro-life pregnancy centers and require them to advertise for the abortion industry. Specifically, the law requires these centers to post a disclosure, advising women on how they can obtain a state-sponsored abortion.
This week, I contacted the Executive Director of Care Net Pregnancy Center of Santa Fe, Roberta Cheek, and requested her thoughts on the California law and its potential impact on life-affirming organizations.
“At its core, this is a First Amendment, freedom of speech issue,” Roberta stated. “As a pro-life, option pregnancy center, our mission is to promote a culture of life by providing women and families with support, resources, and accurate information on abortion risks so they can make an informed decision regarding their pregnancy. Forcing pregnancy centers like ours to refer women to abortion providers would contradict the very reason for our existence.”
Imagine the American Lung Association being forced to advertise cigarettes. That would be outrageous!
Friends – this law is not only just as outrageous, but it is an affront to our First Amendment. Bottom line – the government does not have the power to compel anyone to speak a message they disagree with. That is why Family Policy Alliance joined the effort, led by California Family Council, to produce and present a powerful legal brief to the U.S. Supreme Court ahead of this important case. In short, the filed amicus brief affirms support for the constitutional right of pro-life organizations not to be compelled to engage in speech that violates their conscience, religious beliefs, and mission statements.
The reality is this – if our pro-life pregnancy centers lose this case, we will all lose, because if government can compel their speech, then our individual Freedom of Speech is also at risk!
Something to think about: In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court stated, “[t]he government may not…compel the endorsement of ideas that it approves.”
Something to pray for: Please pray that the U.S. Supreme Court maintains that precedent and that a majority of the Justices ultimately rule against this egregious California law.
Standing for Religious Freedom,
President and Executive Director