Supreme Court takes up First Amendment challenge to California abortion law

Court building in Washington

Supreme Court takes up First Amendment challenge to California abortion law

Does a California law violate the Constitution by requiring anti-abortion pregnancy centers to inform clients about free or low-priced abortion and contraception services?

California's Reproductive FACT Act became law in October of 2015.

The petitioners say they are "life-affirming pregnancy centers" that offer a variety of medical and counseling services for pregnant women to consider options to abortion. Under the law, doctors faced fines and the possible loss of their medical licenses for discussing guns with patients.

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".

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.

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The facilities had asked the high court to hear their appeal of a ruling a year ago by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the law. The decision marks the first time the country's highest court will hear an abortion-related case during the Trump administration.

"California's threat to pro-life pregnancy care centers and medical clinics counts among the most flagrant violations of constitutional religious and free speech rights in the nation", said NIFLA founder and president Thomas Glessner, J.D, in a statement.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will be defending the law. Every Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC) must post the notice or face government censorship.

"The implications of the Supreme Court's decision in this case will reverberate nationwide, to similar unconstitutional laws in IL and Hawaii", he added. 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.

The Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom is before the high court in another high profile First Amendment case challenging compelled speech this term: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, brought by a Colorado baker who argues that the state can not, under anti-discrimination laws, compel him to create a wedding cake for same-sex couples. Other politically charged cases include a fight over a Christian baker's refusal to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, also brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom, and a challenge to Republican-drawn electoral districts in Wisconsin.

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