BLOGCourt Got it Right in Striking Down Government-Mandated Speech for Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers

By Marissa Mayer Posted on: | April 19, 2016

Pro-life pregnancy centers exist for one reason: to offer help and hope to pregnant women through loving both mother and baby.

Some do so through counseling and education efforts at non-medical pregnancy centers, while medical pregnancy centers (clinics) work under the direction of a licensed physician and offer medical services such as limited sonograms, prenatal exams, and sometimes STI/STD testing.

Unsurprisingly, these centers don't offer abortions. They don't provide abortion referrals either. While they may include information on the facts about abortion on their websites or in person in order to educate women in our heavily propagandized society, they do not promote or facilitate a woman having an abortion because they are pro-life. (They do, however, counsel women who have regrets about a past abortion.)

But if the New York City Council had gotten its way, these pro-life pregnancy centers would have been forced to start speaking certain messages to appease abortion advocates. According to the ordinance, the centers would have to say—in all advertisements, on many phone calls, and on two posted signs— whether the center provides or refers for abortions, "the morning after” or “week after” pill, or prenatal care, whether the center has a licensed medical provider on staff, and that the City recommends pregnant women consult with a licensed provider.

That's like the government forcing an organic grocery store to post signs saying that (1) they don't carry the processed, sugary goodies found in other stores, (2) that if you have a craving for some Oreos, you can get them at the grocery store down the street, and (3) that just because you shop in their store doesn't mean you're automatically going to be healthier and/or lose weight.

Thankfully, in 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling that struck down most of the provisions of the law in 2011, and last week a federal court approved a settlement between the centers and the City of New York to clarify the remaining provisions to ensure the freedom of speech for these centers.

“New York City’s pro-life pregnancy care centers should be able to offer free help and hope to the women and children that they serve without unconstitutional interference from the government, and this settlement allows that to happen,” said ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman. “The centers will be able to operate without being forced to post or express any messages that conflict with their pro-life beliefs or that encourage women to go elsewhere. The centers have also preserved their right to defend themselves in court again if the city discriminates against them.”

And other cities and states should take notice of the unconstitutionality of such laws.

For example, California recently enacted a law that forces pro-life pregnancy centers in the state to actually promote abortion.

"I don’t want to put up a sign telling you where you can go for an abortion,” Josh McClure, executive director of East County Pregnancy Care Clinic in El Cajon, CA, recently told the New York Times. McClure's clinic is a plaintiff in one of several legal challenges to the California law. “The sign is not up here now because it’s unconstitutional."

Forcing organizations that exist to offer mothers in need real alternatives to abortion to actually hand out or post information about where women can have an abortion is absurd. The government cannot compel people or businesses to communicate a message with which they disagree. To do so is a blatant violation of freedom of speech and has no place in a society that is supposed to uphold freedom of speech for all people—not just the ones funded by Big Abortion and its cronies.


ADF is Protecting the Rights of Those Who Stand for Life

A growing number of people are standing up for life, but many are finding themselves in need of legal help when they are censored or punished for their pro-life views. Additionally, the Obamacare HHS mandate is forcing pro-life business owners to pay for employees' abortion pills or face government fines that could put them out of business. Learn more about how ADF stands with those who stand for life.

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Marissa Mayer

Senior Web Writer

Marissa Mayer is an Arizona native who fell in love with the written word at a young age.

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