Court strikes down law forcing Hawaii pregnancy centers to promote abortion

pregnancy centers

Pregnancy resource centers in Hawaii have had their free speech upheld in the case of Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor v. Suzuki, a case which challenged Senate Bill 501 (later named Act 200), a bill which Alliance Defending Freedom says “required pro-life pregnancy centers to direct women to a state agency that provides abortion referrals and funding.” ADF noted in its press release that the Act “would have required pro-life centers to post large signs or provide notice to clients that the state of Hawaii ‘has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services,’ which include abortion-inducing drugs.”

U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson issued a permanent injunction against Act 200 in light of the Supreme Court decision, NIFLA v. Becerra, which found that the government of California could not compel pro-life pregnancy resource centers to promote abortion.

The U.S. Supreme Court noted in its majority opinion, “Even if the State had presented a non-hypothetical justification, the FACT Act unduly burdens protected speech. It imposes a government-scripted, speaker-based disclosure requirement that is wholly disconnected from the State’s informational interest.… [I]t requires these clinics to disclose information about state-sponsored services— including abortion, anything but an ‘uncontroversial’ topic.”

ADF writes in its press release that even Hawaii’s Attorney General was forced to admit that, in light of the Supreme Court’s June 2018 ruling, “the compelled speech mandate at the heart of the law was unconstitutional.”

NIFLA President Thomas Glessner called the law “particularly egregious” because it forced pregnancy centers to promote abortion and “also compelled a church to promote abortion inside its building.” It appears that the plaintiff, Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor — a church — houses the pregnancy center, A Place for Women in Waipio, on the second floor of its building.

NIFLA’s Gleaner has labeled the ruling as “a major victory for free speech and freedom of religion.”

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