Judge Denies Injunction Against Law Ordering Pregnancy Centers to Provide Info on Abortion Programs

Photo Credit: Jess Lis
Photo Credit: Jess Lis

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal judge in California has become the fourth to deny an injunction against a state law that requires pro-life pregnancy centers to provide information on government abortion programs.

“The act does not ban speech or otherwise prohibit plaintiffs from discussing their message with patients,” wrote San Diego Judge John Houston. “Instead, the act requires medical providers to advise their patients of various types of treatment available so patients are fully informed when making decisions regarding their pregnancies.”

“The state clearly has a legitimate interest in ensuring pregnant women are fully advised of their rights and treatment options when making reproductive health care decisions and the required disclosure is undeniably related to that interest,” he said.

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).”

Violators will be fined $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for each infringement afterward.

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Two other judges have likewise rejected requests for an injunction, as well as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rachele Huennekens, press secretary for Attorney General Harris, told Courthouse News that Harris is pleased that Houston denied the injunction.

“We are pleased that the courts have thus far upheld the California Reproductive FACT Act and its important goals of protecting women’s health and providing women with time-sensitive information about medical services available to them,” she said. “Attorney General Harris will continue to defend the law through each phase of litigation.”

But Fallbrook Pregnancy Resource Center Directory Carolyn Koole said that pregnancy centers should not be forced to tell women where they can get an abortion, especially since the purpose of their existence is to save lives.

“We want to be assured that our referral services offer the same life-affirming love, care, compassion, respect, time and education that we do, allowing our clients to make their own uninfluenced, unpressured, but informed choices,” she told reporters. “There are no silent referrals … We know that we are not only referring the mother, but we are also referring a preborn child.”

The law officially went into effect on Jan. 1.

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