SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Two federal judges in California have refused to grant injunction requests that would have stopped a new law from being applied that requires pro-life pregnancy centers to provide information on government abortion programs.
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 pregnancy centers in the state opposed the notion and a number filed injunctions against the mandate. On Friday and Monday, U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller, appointed to the bench by Barack Obama, and U.S. District Judge Jeffery White, appointed to the bench by George W. Bush, both denied the requests for relief.
While the judges acknowledged that the requirement is essentially “compelled speech,” they said that the pregnancy centers are only being asked to provide “truthful, non-misleading information” that would not stop the facilities from telling women that they oppose abortion.
“There is a general public interest in ensuring the women of this state know they have access to publicly funded health care related to family planning, contraception, abortion and prenatal care and delivery,” Mueller wrote.
Attorneys with the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) and American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represented six pregnancy centers–three each, have now appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“We’re obviously disappointed with what the district court did in denying the motion for preliminary injunction,” ACLJ Senior Counsel Francis Manion told reporters. “As far as we’re concerned, that was just the end of round one. We think our arguments are strong, and we obviously disagree with the court’s opinion. We’re relatively optimistic that we’ll get it reversed on appeal. We think the law is strongly on our side. Sometimes courts see it differently than we do and we understand that, so we’ll try at the next level.”
The ACLJ represented LivingWell Medical Clinic, Pregnancy Center of the North Coast and Confidence Pregnancy Center, while PJI represented A Woman’s Friend Pregnancy Resource Clinic, Crisis Pregnancy Center of Northern California and Alternatives Women’s Center. The law is set to go into effect on Jan. 1.