Many nonprofit organizations set out to solve a problem – to combat hunger or homelessness or disease.
If these nonprofits were forced to start advertising the very problem they are looking to solve, they would be rightfully outraged. They might even stop doing business to avoid being forced to promote something they have dedicated their lives to stopping.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening in California.
In 2015, California passed the Reproductive FACT Act. This law forces medically licensed, pro-life pregnancy centers to post signs in their clinics stating that California offers free or low-cost abortions and providing a phone number for women to call to get more information. The law also requires non-medically licensed pregnancy centers to post a disclaimer in their centers and in their advertising that they are not a medical facility – in up to 13 different languages – crowding out their own message.
But these pro-life pregnancy centers are dedicated to ending abortion. They work to provide women with the information and resources they need to give their babies life.
Free of charge, they provide women with the material resources they need, such as diapers, wipes, formula, and clothing. On top of that, many of these centers provide emotional and spiritual support. They offer parenting classes, Bible studies, and counseling. The medically licensed centers can provide pregnancy testing, prenatal vitamins, ultrasounds, and STD testing.
To force these centers to advertise for the very practice they are working to end is unthinkable.
To add insult to injury, if these pregnancy centers choose not to post these signs, they could be fined $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for every offense after that. These fines would be devastating to nonprofit pregnancy centers. And they would face the choice of undermining their own mission or closing their doors.
That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom has stepped in. We are representing the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates in a lawsuit against California. And in March, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear this case.
If California is permitted to force these pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion, that severely undermines free speech for all Americans. That gives government free reign to start mandating that citizens speak the government-favored messages, even if they disagree. It’s pro-life viewpoints the California government is targeting today, but it could be another viewpoint – your viewpoint – the government is targeting tomorrow.
The government should never be able to compel its citizens to speak a message with which they disagree.
It doesn’t matter if you are pro-abortion or pro-life. It should concern you if the government can tell you to speak a message that violates your beliefs. That’s why ADF is representing these pregnancy centers: Protecting the free speech of these pregnancy centers protects free speech for us all.