Pro-choice forces have had stronghold in California for quite some time, but that all may be changing very soon.
As Live Action News recently reported, Superior Court Judge Gloria Trask ruled that the state Reproductive Fact Act, which requires pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise that the state has public program providing abortion, is unconstitutional.
The law was signed almost exactly two years ago by pro-choice Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. From the start it has been termed the “bully” bill by pro-lifers and the pregnancy centers which offer life-affirming alternatives to abortion.
What Judge Trask found to be “compelled speech” pertained to the law’s requiring that the following statement be posted:
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 [insert the telephone number].
As Christian News further noted, the law, according to Judge Trask’s finding, goes against the California Constitution, specifically Article 1, Section 2, “Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press.”
She also noted that the state can provide this information through other means besides compelling those opposed to such services to promote it for them. “The statute compels the clinic to speak words with which it profoundly disagrees when the state has numerous alternative methods of publishing its message,” she said.
It’s hard to imagine how a law, which has been termed the “bully” bill for a reason, could more clearly restrict a person right to “freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects…” California is ranked one of the least protective states of life by Americans United for Life. They do not report their abortion statistics to the Centers for Disease Control, making it difficult to point to how many women undergo the abortion procedure in the state. California’s abortion laws, however, which are not merely pro-choice, but which communicate a sort of pro-abortion and anti- pro-life viewpoint, may suggest that the state already has high abortion rates.
Therefore, the state hardly needs to use the unwilling actors of pregnancy centers, which by their purpose oppose abortion, while also promoting life-affirming alternatives to women who willingly walk through their doors. Many centers are also run by Christians. When filing the lawsuit in 2015, Scott Scharpen, a pastor at Rock Valley Christian Church in Murietta, who also founded Go Mobile for Life, warned:
If the California state government gets away with telling pregnancy clinics what to say and even how to say it, then ALL faith-based businesses are at risk of being bullied into delivering the government’s mandated speech.
The religious convictions of Pastor Scharpen also made their way into the decision. From Pregnancy Help News:
None of those options involve running roughshod over the deeply held religious convictions held by Scharpen—who also serves as a pastor—who would have been forced to speak a government message that would have left “patients with the belief they were referred to an abortion provider by that clinic,” Trask explained.
In a much-needed victory for unborn life and those who seek to protect such life, Judge Trask’s decision blocks the law as a permanent injunction. According to a press release, however, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will appeal the decision.
The law is also being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which frequently rules in favor of abortion, and is the most reversed appeals court, allowed the law to remain in October 2016, one year after the bill was signed into law.