When Stephanie Gibson was 27 years old, her then-boyfriend drove her to an abortion clinic where he had made her an appointment. He told Stephanie that there was no way they were going to be together, but an abortion would be the only way he would forgive her.
This pressure from friends and family is not uncommon for young women facing unplanned pregnancies. And in those confusing times, it can be difficult to see who they should turn to for help.
Thankfully, early in her pregnancy, Stephanie made an appointment at Pregnancy Care Clinic in El Cajon, California. That first visit, the staff administered a pregnancy test, celebrated with her over the pregnancy, and gave her a baby blanket.
“It was something tangible that I got to hold on to when hope sometimes felt fleeting,” she said. “I had something physical that I could hold in my hands. Then, later, I got to wrap my baby in that blanket.”
That’s quite a different feeling than she experienced on her trip to the abortion clinic.
Pro-life pregnancy centers in California want to provide local women with the help, hope, and resources they need to give their babies life. Free of charge, these centers provide diapers, clothing for both mom and baby, baby blankets, and baby wipes among many other supplies. They also give women the information and support they need through childbirth education, emotional support groups, Bible studies, adoption resources, parenting classes, information on sexually transmitted diseases, information on natural family planning, and healthy family support. And pregnancy centers that are medically licensed can provide pregnancy testing, prenatal vitamins, ultrasound examinations, medical referrals, STD testing, and health provider consultation.
That sounds like something local governments would want to get behind.
As for Stephanie, she directly benefited from many of these resources, and the free ultrasound she received at Pregnancy Care Clinic was instrumental in her decision to have her baby girl, who is now five years old.
“It’s a safe place. It’s a haven. It’s information. It’s arms when you need a hug,” she said of the support she felt from the first moment she walked into the pregnancy center.
Despite all of the valuable resources that these pro-life pregnancy centers provide, however, a California law forces them to speak a message that undermines their very mission. The Reproductive FACT Act forces medically licensed pregnancy centers to post signs that state where women can go to receive free abortions and provides a phone number where they can call to be referred to an abortion center such as Planned Parenthood. The law also requires non-medically licensed pregnancy centers to post a disclaimer in their centers and their advertising that they are not a medical facility – in up to 13 different languages. This requirement makes it virtually impossible for them to advertise their services.
The government should not be able to force these pregnancy centers to speak a message that violates their very reason for existing.
That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates in a lawsuit against this law. The Supreme Court will hear the case this spring.
It’s unconstitutional for the government to force people to speak messages with which they disagree. But that’s exactly what’s happening in California. The Supreme Court has an opportunity to make this right and uphold free speech and maybe even save some lives.
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