US District Judges Jeffrey White and Kimberly Mueller have sided against pro-life pregnancy centers in two cases against California’s so-called Reproductive FACT Act, which requires them to provide patients with information on obtaining public assistance for abortion and contraception services.
Called the “Bully Bill” in pro-life circles, the act was signed into law in October. Pregnancy centers contend that it violates their free speech and religious exercise rights by forcing them to indirectly help women obtain services they not only oppose, but are in business for the express purpose of making unnecessary.
The law “unconstitutionally compels (the clinics) to speak messages that they have not chosen, with which they do not agree, and that distract, and detract from, the messages they have chosen to speak,” a lawsuit filed by Pacific Justice Institute on behalf of two CPCs argues.
However, Judge White the required notice was permissible because it does “not include language endorsing or recommending such services” and the plaintiffs did not show they would “suffer a resulting injury.”
Mueller agreed, finding the FACT Act’s mandated language was sufficiently neutral, that religious concerns were invalid as it applied equally to religious and non-religious CPCs, and that the public interest in access to abortion services outweighed their conscience interests.
Neither Pacific Justice Institute nor the American Center for Law and Justice, which led the other challenge, have yet commented on their next steps, but PJI President Brad Dacus has warned, “If the government can get away with this, they can order anyone to say anything,” while the ACLJ declares that “if these pro-abortion laws stand, vital pro-life work will be silenced and babies will die.”