The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear whether pro-life pregnancy counseling centers in California must provide information about publicly-funded abortion services.  (Photo: DepositPhotos.com / trekandshoot)

 

In its third case on the issue of state-required speech this term, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a California case involving whether the state can compel pro-life pregnancy counseling centers to post notices about the existence of publicly-funded abortion and contraceptive services, and requires disclosures if the centers or personnel are unlicensed.

The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) and Fallbrook Pregnancy Resource Center, non-profit corporations, are appealing a 9th Circuit decision that held the required disclosures are “professional regulations” subject only to intermediate scrutiny. The 9th Circuit acknowledged that there is disagreement between the Circuit courts about the regulation of professional speech on controversial health issues.

NIFLA’s petition asks the court to consider, “Whether the Free Speech Clause or the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment prohibits California from compelling licensed pro-life centers to post information on how to obtain a state-funded abortion and from compelling unlicensed pro-life centers to disseminate a disclaimer to clients on site and in any print and digital advertising.”

The required disclosure states, “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 [phone number].”

Fallbrook Pregnancy Resource Center provides free pregnancy tests, free ultrasounds, and education about abortion. They also have a program that provides new parents with items for babies and toddlers including diapers, formula, baby clothes, strollers, baby beds, and other necessities.

National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, (Docket No. 16-1140, cert granted 11/13/2017) is the third “compelled-” or “forced-speech” case being heard this term. In Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (argument set for 12/05/2017) the Court will decide whether the state can require a baker to make a wedding cake, which he considers speech, in violation of his sincerely held religious beliefs.  In Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 (argument date to be announced) the Court will determine whether a government may force its employees to pay agency fees to an exclusive representative for speaking and contracting with the government over policies that affect their profession.

 
 

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