Supreme Court upholds injunction against California FACT Act

In a decision important to women’s health yesterday, the US Supreme Court upheld challenges to the California FACT Act with a 5-4 decision, in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. The Act requires crisis pregnancy centers in the state to post various disclosures depending on the type of services that they provide, including disclosures about the availability of abortions. The centers, typically run by groups at oppose abortion, argued that the law infringed upon their First Amendment freedom of speech by forcing them to promote abortion and abortion providers and had asked the lower courts to suspended enforcement of the law while their First Amendment claims were litigated.  The Court reversed the lower courts’ stays and remanded the case for further consideration in light of its ruling.

The case had pitted pro-life conservatives against pro-choice advocates who contend that the centers engage in deceptive practices by obscuring the fact that they may not offer medical services, and even if they do, do not provide access to a full range of reproductive services, including abortions.  The Court ruled that California’s law impermissibly sought to force the centers to support the very practice that they were created to oppose and this is an impermissible government intrusion on speech.

In a statement about the ruling, Attorney General Xavier Becerra expressed disappointment and reaffirmed the state’s commitment to what he describes, educate women about their healthcare.

“When it comes to making their health decisions, all California women – regardless of their economic background or zip code – deserve access to critical and non-biased information to make their own informed decisions. Today’s Court ruling is unfortunate, but our work to ensure that Californians receive accurate information about their healthcare options will continue.”

As expected,Thomas Glessner, NIFLA President and Founder of  the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates celebrated the ruling as a victory for Free Speech stating,

“The right of free speech protected in the First Amendment not only includes the right to speak, but also the right to not be compelled by government to speak a message with which one disagrees and which violates one’s conscience. The court correctly found that the California law clearly offends this principle. We are very pleased with the court’s decision and for what it means for the many pro-life centers that serve and empower women in California and throughout the country.”