Supreme Court Blocks CA FACT Act Forcing Pro-Life Center to Promote Abortion

Court rules pro-life centers don’t have to provide information on low cost or free abortion.

The United States Supreme Court barred a California law, the FACT Act, requiring pro-life pregnancy clinics to provide information linked to programs which provide low cost or free abortion. Pro-life and Christian groups celebrated the verdict. This ruling is the latest in a number of similar state and local level reversals all over the United States during the last couple of years.

The apex court, in its 5-4 ruling in the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) vs. Becerra sent this particular case back to the lower courts for renewed consideration. The Supreme Court has earlier found that the petitioners have a higher chance to succeed due to the merits of the claim of FACT Act contravening the First Amendment.

The FACT Act forced pregnancy centers to provide referrals to state-financed abortion providers. The "Reproductive FACT Act" compels California pregnancy centers which do not perform abortions to post an official notice informing readers about multiple California programs offering low cost or free abortions to all eligible women. This notice must have a valid phone number for a county office which can refer women to centers who provide abortion services, such as Planned Parenthood.

The pregnancy centers were under duress to offer information on birth control resources. Pro-life centers believed these requirements forced them to support other centers which go against their beliefs. FACT stands for Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency. The Supreme Court pointed out the act “targets speakers and not speech.” It also imposes a weighty disclosure requirement which will lead to a chilling effect on "protected speech."

Penny Nance, the President and CEO of Concerned Women for America said, “We applaud the US Supreme Court for sending a clear statement today that pro-life Americans cannot be discriminated against and targeted by government.” She added this case did not concern abortion. The case involved forced speech.

The FACT Act has a varied history. The lower courts in California had earlier thrown out the petition to block this California law while the latter was being challenged via legal means. It was ruled by the Ninth Court of Appeals that the case made against this law probably would fail due to the marked absence of merits. The Supreme Court reversed this ruling. It said that the Ninth Court was entirely wrong in treating pregnancy center speech as a lesser variant of free speech because it is labeled as “professional speech.”

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