Politics & Policy

Turning Pro-Life Centers into Abortion-Referral Agencies

(Dreamstime image: Nikolai Lenets)
A California law clearly violates First Amendment protections of free speech and religious liberty.

On October 14, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a California statute that forces pro-life pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) to recommend abortions. The ruling allowed the state to enforce this unjust law.

This case is the latest in a decades-long battle between pro-life pregnancy-resource centers — which offer pro-life support and options to mothers in crisis pregnancies — and the taxpayer-funded abortion industry. Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) have long fought to prevent PRCs from informing women of the risks of abortion and the value of the child they carry.

Nowhere is this battle clearer than in California. The “Reproductive FACT Act” aims to turn pro-life pregnancy centers into abortion-referral agencies by requiring the pro-life centers to give patients information on how they can obtain state-funded abortions. Non-compliance will result in fines and sanctions that will guarantee the closure of pro-life agencies.

This law clearly violates both the protections of free speech and the exercise of religious liberty contained in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. For the government to compel faith-based ministries to give voice to a message with which they disagree and that their religious convictions oppose constitutes tyranny in its highest form.

There are nearly 3,000 pro-life centers nationwide, outnumbering Planned Parenthood locations almost five to one. I am the president of the National Institute of Life and Family Advocates (NIFLA), an umbrella group that gives legal and medical assistance to more than 1,350 of these life-affirming centers, including 125 in California.

Pro-life pregnancy-resource centers have existed since the 1970s, offering material assistance, guidance, and counsel to mothers who are contemplating abortion. These centers are primarily staffed by volunteers — people motivated not by money but by love and concern for others in dire straits. All services are free of charge. No medical insurance is needed, and no government funds are used to pay for services.

Today the work of these life-affirming agencies includes the provision of necessary medical services such as ultrasound confirmation of pregnancy, STI testing and treatment, and adoption-referral services. Medical services are offered under the direction and supervision of licensed physicians and trained medical professionals, such as nurses and sonographers.

NIFLA and the pregnancy-resource centers we represent are a threat to the abortion industry’s billion-dollar bottom line. Perhaps this is why Planned Parenthood’s allies in Maryland, Texas, Oregon, New York, Virginia, and Washington have targeted pro-life alternatives for unconstitutional harassment.

These attempts have, for the most part, failed. Federal courts have declared that the measures are violations of free speech. Only in California has a measure been upheld, and a new law was recently signed in Illinois — which NIFLA is also challenging. These new challenges are why we are hosting our National Legal and Medical Summit later this week to help our members navigate this menacing legal landscape.

To date, only the city of Los Angeles has attempted to enforce the law. Other jurisdictions in California are withholding enforcement until the issues are determined in federal court.

Since 1973, more than 60 million abortions have occurred in America. This number would be far greater if not for the work of pro-life pregnancy resource centers.

Since 1973, more than 60 million abortions have occurred in America. This number would be far greater if not for the work of pro-life pregnancy resource centers.

Women deserve to have alternatives to abortion. However, if the abortion industry and its allies in government win these lawsuits, the very existence of pro-life pregnancy-resource centers will be threatened.

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