A federal district court struck down a Hawaii law Thursday that required pro-life pregnancy centers to post information about a state agency that provides abortion referrals and funding.
Pregnancy centers would have been required to post signs informing their clients that the state of Hawaii “has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services,” including abortion.
In Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor v. Suzuki, attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom challenged the law on behalf of Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor’s pregnancy center, “A Place for Women in Waipio,” and five pregnancy center affiliates with the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA).
In June the Supreme Court sided in a 5-4 ruling with pro-life pregnancy centers in the case NIFLA v. Becerra, arguing that the similar California law violated the groups’ right to free speech.
“By requiring petitioners to inform women how they can obtain state-subsidized abortions—at the same time petitioners try to dissuade women from choosing that option— the licensed notice plainly “alters the content” of petitioners’ speech,” Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas noted in the majority opinion.
“It does appear that viewpoint discrimination is inherent in the design and structure of this Act,” then-Justice Kennedy commented in his concurring opinion. “This law is a paradigmatic example of the serious threat presented when government seeks to impose its own message in the place of individual speech, thought, and expression.”
In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in NIFLA, District Court Judge Derrick K. Watson declared the compelled speech portion of the law unconstitutional and permanently enjoined Hawaii from enforcing it.
The groups commented on the decision Thursday.
“Hawaii’s law was particularly egregious,” NIFLA President Thomas Glessner said. “Not only did it force pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion, it also compelled a church to promote abortion inside its building. The state of Hawaii has acknowledged that its attempt to force pro-life centers and churches to advertise its abortion agenda was unconstitutional. This case constitutes a major victory for free speech and freedom of religion.”
“Hawaii’s pro-life, nonprofit pregnancy centers offer free practical resources, information, and emotional support to women—no matter what choices those women make,” Derald Skinner, Pastor of Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor and President of “A Place for Women in Waipio, commented.” “We’re grateful that the state has backed off its unconstitutional attack on our ministry. Our doors remain open and we continue to offer love, care, and compassion for all women and their precious little babies in our community.”