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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers

Pro-life demonstrators outside the Supreme Court. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court blocked Tuesday a California state law requiring so-called crisis-pregnancy centers to provide information about contraception and abortion.

The 5–4 conservative majority found that the law, which required crisis-pregnancy centers to post information about the availability of low-cost, publicly funded contraception and abortion, likely violated the centers’ First Amendment rights.

Critics of the law argued that it forced pro-life organizations to violate their beliefs by facilitating access to abortion. Proponents of the law viewed it as a check on attempts by religious groups to mislead pregnant women about the options available to them.

In crafting the law, the California legislature found that roughly 200 pro-life crisis-pregnancy centers in the state used “intentionally deceptive advertising and counseling practices that often confuse, misinform, and even intimidate women from making fully-informed, time-sensitive decisions about critical health care.”

The high-court ruling comes after the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law.

“California has a substantial interest in the health of its citizens, including ensuring that its citizens have access to and adequate information about constitutionally protected medical services like abortion,” Judge Dorothy W. Nelson wrote for the Ninth Circuit in defending the requirement that the centers post information about abortion. “The notice informs the reader only of the existence of publicly funded family-planning services. It does not contain any more speech than necessary, nor does it encourage, suggest or imply that women should use those state-funded services.”

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