California Judge Orders State to Pay $399K to Pro-life Pregnancy Centers

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Posted: Feb 20, 2019 5:30 PM
California Judge Orders State to Pay $399K to Pro-life Pregnancy Centers

Source: AP Photo/Mark Sherman

The state of California has been ordered to pay $399,000 to three crisis pregnancy centers and a politically-conservative law firm after the Supreme Court struck down a law intended to force crisis pregnancy centers to promote abortion.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that the California law requiring crisis pregnancy centers to display information on how to obtain a state-funded abortion was unconstitutional. In October, a federal district court issued a permanent injunction against the law known as the California Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act.

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Terry Hatter for the Central District of California ordered that California must pay the Pregnancy and Family Resource Center of San Bernardino, His Nesting Place of Long Beach, Birth Choice of the Desert in La Quinta, and the Liberty Counsel a total of $399,000 in legal fees and other costs.

“This is a great victory for children, mothers, and families,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, in a statement.

“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. The law violated freedom of speech. The First Amendment protects the right to speak and the right not to speak. Faith-based pro-life pregnancy centers cannot be forced to promote human genocide,” said Staver.

The 2015 law had required that most pro-life pregnancy centers offer information to clients on where they can find low or no-cost abortion services. The law also demanded that the pregnancy centers disclose what services they do and do not provide on their front doors, in their waiting rooms, online, and in every advertisement from billboards to business cards. 98.5 percent of the clinics subject to the law were reportedly pro-life facilities.

If the centers chose not to comply with the state-issued standards, they could be fined $500 for the first violation and $1,000 for each additional violation.

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling in the case known as National Institute of Family and Life Advocates vs. Becerra, called the law "unjustified and unduly burdensome."

During arguments Michael Farris, a lawyer for the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, claimed the state of California was imposing “onerous advertising rules.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appeared to disagree.

"If the state law were that all women's health providers that perform abortions would have to tell the patients, if you would like to carry the pregnancy to term, you will have access to a clinic that will assist them, provide adoption facilities they might contact, or provide instruction on how to care for infants?" Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked. "Suppose that were the statute. Would that be unconstitutional?"

When Farris answered no, Ginsburg was incredulous. "But why isn't this also informed consent?", she asked.

Justice Clarence Thomas said in his majority opinion, "California cannot co-opt the licensed facilities to deliver its message for it."