The Supreme Court agreed to hear a major free speech case Monday that will address a 2015 California law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to “disseminate to clients” a message promoting public programs with “free or low-cost access” to abortion and contraceptive services.
The law, dubbed “The Reproductive FACT Act” by its supporters, including the abortion advocacy group NARAL which sponsored the legislation, went into effect in January of 2016. It requires pregnancy centers to post the notice that, “California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [insert the telephone number].”
Three pregnancy centers, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, Pregnancy Care Center, and Fallbrook Pregnancy Resource Center, sued over the requirement claiming that the law infringes upon their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.
In their petition to the Supreme Court, filed in March, the groups state that, “California enacted the Reproductive FACT Act with the stated purpose of targeting pro-life ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ based on their viewpoint that ‘discourage[s]’ abortion…. The Ninth Circuit candidly admits that it upheld the Act amidst a ‘circuit split’ over how to scrutinize regulations of speech by medical professionals on controversial health issues.”
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