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Supreme Court Will Hear Arguments over California Abortion Law
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Summary: The challenge against California’s law requiring pregnancy centers to provide abortion information is being taken on by the Supreme Court.

The United States Supreme Court made an unprecedented move by agreeing to take a case involving abortion. The First Amendment challenge to the California law requiring all licensed pregnancy centers to provide information on state-run programs that provide abortions has been picked up by the Supreme Court.

  
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The challengers are “life-affirming pregnancy centers” that offer medical and counseling services for pregnant women considering options other than abortion. Their lawyers say their clients have religious objections to abortions so they cannot be forced to post the information.

Lawyer Kevin T. Snider for A Woman’s Friend Pregnancy Resource Clinic and Alternative Women’s Center said, “Based on religious convictions, these clinics strongly object to being compelled to speak the messages required by the Act’s disclosure.”

The law, Reproductive FACT Act, was passed in October 2015 and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. The Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals in San Francisco, considered the most liberal appeals court in the nation, ruled against the centers last year. The law requires centers “whose primary purpose is providing family planning or pregnancy-related services” to post a notice, which reads: “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.”

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This will be the first time the Supreme Court has taken on an abortion-related case during the Trump administration. One of the lawyers behind the challenged, Jay Sekulow, was a personal lawyer for Donald Trump. Sekulow argues that the law violates “the principle that one cannot be conscripted into acting as a ventriloquist’s dummy for a government message.”

California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, claims that over 350,000 pregnancies in the state are unintended but that many women are unaware of programs that are available to them. He believes the law is a justifiable regulation of medical practice.



The federal courts have struggled over deciding when a doctor’s free speech rights are violated when they are required to deliver a state-required message. Laws forbidding doctors from asking patients about their gun ownership have been struck down by appeals courts as well as laws forcing doctors to show a sonogram to the woman before she receives an abortion.

The Supreme Court will hear the case early next year and rule on it by late June. They have had mixed rulings on abortion and religious freedoms recently. They shot down a Texas law restricting clinics and doctors from performing the procedure but also allowed companies like Hobby Lobby that object to certain forms of contraception from opting out of covering them in their employee benefits.

Do you think pregnancy centers should be required to provide information on abortion? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about abortion laws, read these articles:

Photo: flickr.com



 

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