California must pay three pro-life pregnancy centers and a conservative law firm nearly $400,000 in legal fees after a law forcing pregnancy centers to promote abortion was overturned.
The original law, passed in 2015, required pregnancy centers — many of which are owned and operated by pro-life Christian organizations — to post signs in “conspicuous” locations informing visitors of where they can obtain abortions.
But in a 5-4 decision in June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Reproductive FACT Act was unconstitutional. Under the legislation, any center that failed to comply with the requirements could be fined $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for every subsequent offense.
U.S District Court Judge Terry Hatter issued an order Monday, ruling the Golden State must pay $399,000 to the Pregnancy and Family Resource Center of San Bernardino, His Nesting Place of Long Beach, Birth Choice of the Desert in La Quinta and the Liberty Counsel.
“This is a great victory for children, mothers and families,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel. “Pro-life pregnancy centers will no longer be compelled to speak a message that goes against their mission to save the lives of babies and women. The law violated freedom of speech.”
“The First Amendment protects the right to speak and the right not to speak,” he continued. “Faith-based pro-life pregnancy centers cannot be forced to promote human genocide.”
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with Staver. In the high court’s decision last summer, Thomas argued the since-removed law “imposes a government-scripted, speaker-based disclosure requirement that is wholly disconnected from California’s informational interest.”
“It targets speakers, not speech, and imposes an unduly burdensome disclosure requirement that will chill their protected speech,” he added.