Friday, October 14, 2016

Court rules California can force pregnancy centers to advertise abortion clinics

Today the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals delivered an early birthday present to Planned Parenthood in time for their 100th birthday Sunday.

The Court denied a request for an injunction from NIFLA and other prolife pregnancy help organizations to protect their rights to free speech. The decision in NIFLA v. Harris revolves around a new California law that forces pregnancy centers to post a sign or give clients materials advertising a phone number they can call to help them receive a tax-funded abortion.

Obviously the U.S. Constitution's free speech protections were not enough to convince the 9th Circuit Court that prolife pregnancy centers should not be subject to compelled speech. The lead attorney in the case representing the pregnancy help organizations was Matt Bowman from Alliance Defending Freedom. In an article by, Bowman said:
"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. In this case, political allies of abortionists are seeking to punish pro-life pregnancy centers, which offer real hope and help to women. Forcing these centers to promote abortion and recite the government's preferred views is a clear violation of their constitutionally protected First Amendment freedoms. That’s why other courts around the country have halted these kinds of measures and why we will be discussing the possibility of appeal with our clients."
The issue of the case was that the 9th Circuit Court argued that the abortion advertising is "viewpoint neutral" because it forces abortion clinics to advertise their own services as well. This is wrong; a viewpoint neutral law should require the abortion clinics to advertise contact information for prolife pregnancy centers.

Imagine California mandating a law requiring liquor distributors and Alcoholic's Anonymous to hand out a list of the nearest liquor stores because the state believes consuming liquor has modest health benefits. The liquor distributor already does that because they believe in selling alcohol: it's their purpose of existence. The sole purpose of AA however is to encourage certain people not to purchase and consume alcohol. A law forcing them to contradict their mission while advancing the mission and financial interests of liquor distributors isn't neutral in any sense of the word!

The decision is no surprise. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has a history of highly ideological and even mistaken rulings, making it the most commonly reversed court in America by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The law itself is no surprise either, given California's long hostility to prolife people. They recently passed a law making it a crime to do undercover journalism at Planned Parenthood offices. Kamala Harris, California's attorney general and the other party of this pregnancy center case, is at Planned Parenthood's beck and call. Harris authorized a raid on the home of David Daleiden, the citizen journalist who uncovered Planned Parenthood's trafficking of body parts of aborted babies, and stole his footage. California forces taxpayers to pay for abortions, has refused to report any statistics on abortion in the state, recently passed a law to allow nurses to perform surgical abortions; the list goes on and on.

The important question prolife people should be asking themselves is how might a U.S. Supreme Court rule on this case in the coming years? Will pregnancy centers in Michigan be forced to advertise abortion clinics? Will the U.S. Supreme Court more closely resemble California and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals than the opinion of most Americans?