Four years after California passed a law forcing pro-life medical clinics to promote abortion, the Golden State is now being forced to make restitution.
The Reproductive FACT Act, which was enacted in 2015, mandated that clinics post signs directing clients to a taxpayer-funded abortion program.
The sign would read as follows:
"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 [insert the telephone number] ."
Failure to comply resulted in a $500 fine for the first violation and $1,000 for each additional violation.
Outraged, the pregnancy centers took their grievances to the US Supreme Court, arguing the law is a clear violation of their First Amendment rights to free speech and exercise of religion.
The high court agreed, ruling 5-4 last June that California "cannot co-opt the licensed facilities to deliver its message for it."
"The FACT Act unduly burdens protected speech. It imposes a government-scripted, speaker-based disclosure requirement that is wholly disconnected from the State's informational interest. It requires covered facilities to post California's precise notice no matter what the facilities say on site or in their advertisements. And it covers a curiously narrow subset of speakers," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the opinion for the majority.
Now a federal judge is ordering California to pay three pregnancy help centers and a conservative law firm $399,000.
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, applauded the order, saying, "Pro-life pregnancy centers will no longer be compelled to speak a message that goes against their mission to save the lives of babies and women. Faith-based pro-life pregnancy centers cannot be forced to promote human genocide."
The news comes as pro-life help centers continue to find their free speech rights targeted by the abortion lobby, Pregnancy Help News reports. For instance, in Connecticut, lawmakers have taken up a bill that would ban pro-life pregnancy centers from advertising their services in a manner the state deems "false, misleading or deceptive."
"The proposed regulation raises clear Constitutional concerns," Jeanneane Maxon, J.D. of the Charlotte Lozier Institute wrote in testimony submitted last week against the legislation. "When successfully challenged in a court of law, the Raised Bill will result in the unnecessary waste of public resources and funds that could be used to provide for the citizens of Connecticut."
Meanwhile, Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International, a global network of 2,600 pregnancy help organizations, argues that the abortion business is not only hurting women – it's costing taxpayers big time.
"Big Abortion is costing taxpayers extraordinary amounts of money to deny women accurate information about their options," he said. "If they truly believe in 'choice,' they will listen to the courts and let pregnancy centers serve women and their unborn children, unhampered by dictates that contradict their deeply held beliefs."
Maxon agreed, noting that pro-life clinics are benefitting women by providing much-needed free services, such as ultrasound scans, material resources, and parenting classes.
"Pregnancy service centers are credible institutions held to high standards set by professionals in the industry," Maxon said. "Pregnancy service centers comply with laws and offer a tremendous service to their communities saving millions of dollars annually. The proposed regulation seeks only to unfairly discredit these worthy organizations and will ultimately harm the clients and communities they serve."