The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a law requiring pro-life pregnancy groups to promote abortion.
A three-judge panel upheld a state law which requires crisis pregnancy centers, some of which are religiously-affiliated and exist expressly to steer women away from abortion, to provide their patients information about abortion services available elsewhere. The bill was supported by California Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro Choice America.A number of pro-life pregnancy centers challenged the law, claiming the law forces them to promote a state-sponsored messages and infringes on their religious beliefs. (RELATED: Pro Life Centers Fight Law Forcing Them To Post Abortion Message)
“It’s bad enough if the government tells you what you can’t say, but a law that tells you what you must say—under threat of severe punishment—is even more unjust and dangerous,” said Matt Bowman, senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom, the public interest law group representing the pro-life groups. “In this case, political allies of abortionists are seeking to punish pro-life pregnancy centers, which offer real hope and help to women.”
The court disagreed. “California has a substantial interest in the health of its citizens, including ensuring that its citizens have access to and adequate information about constitutionally protected medical services like abortion,” Judge Dorothy W. Nelson wrote.
There are approximately 150 crisis pregnancy nonprofits in California affected by the law. The law requires:
A public notice posted in a conspicuous place where individuals wait that may be easily read by those seeking services from the facility. The notice shall be at least 8.5 inches by 11 inches and written in no less than 22-point type.
A printed notice distributed to all clients in no less than 14-point type.
A digital notice distributed to all clients that can be read at the time of check-in or arrival, in the same point type as other digital disclosures. A printed notice as described in subparagraph (B) shall be available for all clients who cannot or do not wish to receive the information in a digital format.
The groups are considering appealing the ruling.
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