Can the state of California force pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for abortions?

Next Tuesday, on March 20, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments for National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. The court will decide whether California’s requirement that pregnancy centers post notices that encourage women to contact the State to receive information on free or low cost abortions violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.

Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) joined forty other family policy organizations in an amici curiae brief drafted by David French in support of the pregnancy centers. In the brief, French argues that pregnancy centers have a constitutional right not to promote abortion:

“California’s citizens, including professionals operating in  their  professional capacities, have a constitutional right to discourage women from   seeking abortions. They have a constitutional right to remain silent about the availability of state-funded free abortions. They have a constitutional right to make the case for life, including by competently offering medical services that are designed not just to convey the truth about the humanity of the unborn child but also to ease the concerns and burdens of the pregnant mother.”

French provides three main arguments in the brief:

  • California is conscripting pro-life professionals into a pro-choice cause.
  • California is transforming private pro-life property into billboards for the pro-choice cause.
  • California’s intolerance threatens to exacerbate American cultural divide.

I would like to end with French’s poignant conclusion in the brief:

“Compelled speech is not the answer to cultural conflict. This court must  not render professionals second-class citizens with diminished constitutional rights. It must not upset generations of case law protecting the “individual freedom of mind.” Maynard, 430  U.S.  at 714. There are  few state actions more repugnant to the consciences of sincere, pro-life citizens than demanding that they advertise free or low-cost access to the deadly procedure they work so mightily to oppose.”

 

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