On Tuesday, a pro-life pregnancy center in Connecticut filed a federal lawsuit against a state law that forces pro-life centers to comply with state-approved speech or face punishment.
The lawsuit, which was filed by attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, fights back against Senate Bill 835, known as “an act concerning deceptive advertising practices of limited services pregnancy centers.”
In the law, it states that “‘limited services pregnancy center’ means a pregnancy services center that does not directly provide, or provides referrals for, abortions or emergency contraception.” Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center of Southeastern Connecticut, the New London-based pregnancy center at the center of the lawsuit, does not provide abortions or other abortion-related services, such as abortion pills. Rather, Care Net provides patients with free consultations to discuss their options.
For example, in a recent post regarding the abortion pill, Care Net wrote, “[a]lthough we do not provide the abortion pill, we can give you all the information you need to make an informed choice.” In a separate post, it states “[a]nyone facing an unintended pregnancy deserves to get facts about abortion and their options without pressure or judgment. We don’t charge for our services and we do not benefit from any decision women make.”
Under S.B. 835, the state attorney general has the authority to decide if “limited services pregnancy centers” engage in “deceptive advertising” for their faith-based beliefs.
“[T]he speech banned by the Act will include ordinary, truthful statements if Care Net does not also speak certain state-approved messages about abortion,” the complaint reads. “the Act regulates the speech only of centers that are ‘limited’ in that they do not perform or refer for abortions or abortificient drugs. These centers are usually faith-based organizations that object on religious grounds to participating in abortion.”
In a statement to the Washington Times, Denise Harle, a senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said that S.B. 835 violates freedom of speech and that “[w]omen who become unexpectedly pregnant should be empowered with life-affirming options, emotional support, and practical resources.”
“This law [S.B. 835] allows the state attorney general to decide if he likes what you’re saying, and if he doesn’t, you must ‘correct’ it or be punished,” Harle continued. “The Supreme Court has made it clear that the government can’t target certain messages because it doesn’t like a particular viewpoint. Care Net should have the freedom to continue serving women in southeastern Connecticut without government censorship.”