SACRAMENTO — The California Assembly voted Tuesday to advance a bill that would require pregnancy centers to inform all clients that they can obtain an abortion at state-funded facilities.
As previously reported, AB 775 is known in the legislature as the Reproductive FACT Act, but to pro-lifers, it is dubbed the “bully bill.” The text of the act states that its author, Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), takes issue with pregnancy centers that don’t provide abortion referrals to women.
“The author contends that, unfortunately, there are nearly 200 licensed and unlicensed clinics known as crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) in California whose goal is to interfere with women’s ability to be fully informed and exercise their reproductive rights, and that CPCs pose as full-service women’s health clinics, but aim to discourage and prevent women from seeking abortions,” it reads.
The legislation therefore requires that licensed pregnancy care centers to provide the following message to clients in print: “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 (telephone number).”
Unlicensed facilities must post a notice stating that they are “not licensed as a medical facility by the State of California and has no licensed medical provider who provides or directly supervises the provision of services.” The message must be posted inside of the facility, on the center’s website and in all advertisements.
Last month, an Assembly committee voted 11-5 in favor of the legislation, and on Tuesday, the full Assembly–mostly Democratic—voted 49-26 to advance the bill to the Senate.
Allison Ruff, aide to co-author Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Los Angeles), told reporters that the effort would keep pregnancy centers from “misinforming” mothers, as she noted that pro-life facilities counsel against abortion.
“That is their focus, and they have every right to focus on adoption and other services, but they also can’t misinform,” she stated.
Ruff didn’t elaborate on how pregnancy centers are currently “misinforming” women in their opposition to ending the lives of unborn children, or how forcing facilities to provide direction toward government abortion programs solves the perceived problem.
But Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), a co-founder of a pregnancy center and father of two adopted children, spoke against AB 775 following its approval, remarking that requiring pro-life facilities to point mothers toward abortion services cuts against the entire reason for the centers’ existence.
“It is an effort to force objectionable, state-mandated speech on pro-life pregnancy care centers which have freely formed in order to compassionately present alternative views—views which are rightly protected by the Constitution,” he said. “To force these centers to post and to distribute how to obtain free abortions cuts to the core of their founding purpose and their reason for being.”
“Two of my adopted children and all three of my grandchildren are the living witnesses of the profound and life-affirming options these centers provide,” Patterson continued. “Privately-funded pregnancy resource centers, and the compassionate people who volunteer at them, have a First Amendment right to freedom of speech. And it is our duty as officers of the state of California to protect that right, not to assault it.”
He said that there ought to be at least one aspect upon which both Democrats and Republicans agree: “Unconstitutional, government-imposed speech upon the views of the minority is wrong.”