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Justices take cases on free speech at pregnancy centers and polling places
14 November 2017, 03:19 | Erica Roy
Supreme Court takes up First Amendment challenge to California abortion law
The justices said Monday they will hear an appeal from centers that complained that a new state law forces them to provide information about abortion and other services.
In 2014, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, Virginia, struck down a North Carolina law that required abortion providers to show and describe an ultrasound to the pregnant woman. Voters affiliated with the Tea Party said the law infringed on their right to free speech.
They petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari after losing their battle for an injunction against the law past year at the Ninth Circuit.
"Information about abortion is just about everywhere, so the government doesn't need to punish pro-life centers for declining to advertise for the very act they can't promote", he added. "Instead, it should protect freedom of speech and freedom from coerced speech".
Additionally, the law requires unlicensed centers to expressly indicate they are not licensed as medical facilities in California.
"The Reproductive FACT Act ensures that women in California receive accurate information about their healthcare options, including whether a facility is a licensed medical provider".
The law requires licensed healthcare facilities to post a notice saying that the state has programs for "immediate free or low-priced access to comprehensive family planning services. prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women".
A new law passed this year in Hawaii, requiring pregnancy centers to display notice of publicly available family planning services, has led Christians to raise similar concerns as in California.
He and others challenged the law on free speech grounds, saying that the government may not bar apparel that merely conveyed a philosophy rather than an endorsement of a particular candidate, party, or ballot measure.
"Planned Parenthood, which makes millions from abortion, deceives women into believing that abortion is their only choice", Elissa Graves, one of the group's attorneys, said in a statement. The court most recently backed abortion rights in 2016 when it struck down a Texas law that imposed strict regulations on clinics that provided abortions.
CT previously covered how Care Net aims to let potential clients know that it won't provide abortions or abortion referrals-without any law requiring it to do so. Lawyers for the centers say that their clients, out of religious objections, do not refer patients for abortion and that they can not be compelled to post the notification.
"This unbelievable government mandate forces pregnancy help centers and staff to be puppets of the government and channel the state's abortion message", said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which represents a case brought against California by Mountain Right to Life. But the justices will only review the free speech claim. Christian pregnancy centers that employ doctors have filed lawsuits against the state over the new law.
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