WILDOMAR, Ca. — A California pastor who serves as the founder of a mobile pregnancy care center has filed a legal challenge over a law that requires pregnancy centers in the state to promote government abortion services.
As previously reported, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Reproductive FACT Act into law in October, a measure that has been dubbed the “bully bill” by pro-life groups in the state. The bill had been authored by Democratic Assemblyman David Chiu, who outlined in the law that he 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 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).”
But Scott Scharpen, pastor at Rock Valley Christian Church in Murietta, says that he cannot and will not comply with the mandate.
“I will not post that notice in our clinic. I would rather close the clinic than post that notice,” he said in a statement released by his attorneys with Advocates for Faith and Freedom. “Now, by law, we are required to provide referral information to a woman for services that we find morally and ethically objectionable, namely abortion.”
Scharpen is the founder of a ministry called Go Mobile for Life, and operates a mobile pregnancy center that provides free ultrasounds to women.
But, “[i]t’s not just a clinic,” he said. “It’s a ministry. We share the gospel with them. Our slogan is ‘GO serve women, GO save lives and GO share Jesus.’”
Scharpen, who filed suit this past week, believes that the legal challenge not only is important in fighting forced speech surrounding the issue of abortion, but any issue of conscience.
“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,” he stated. “We must stand up and fight this unconstitutional law for the benefit of all people!”
Attorney Robert Tyler said that the Reproductive FACT Act is illegal under the California Constitution.
“Article 1, section 2 of the California Constitution provides greater protection for free speech then does the First Amendment,” he outlined. “Under the ‘liberty of speech clause’ in the California Constitution, the government has no right to compel individuals or corporations to adopt the government’s view on abortion and has no right to compel them to advertise and promote abortions.”
A hearing for a preliminary injunction is set for Dec. 23.