WASHINGTON DC, March 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Competing groups battled to be heard on the sprawling plaza in front of the United States Supreme Court Tuesday morning while inside the justices listened to oral arguments concerning California’s Reproductive FACT Act, which mandates that Crisis Pregnancy Centers promote abortion.
Pro-life advocates say that at stake is nothing less than freedom of speech, guaranteed to all Americans by the First Amendment.
The case before the Supreme Court, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Xavier Becerra, commonly shortened to as NIFLA v Becerra, challenges the constitutionality of California’s Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act.
David Bereit, Former CEO of 40 Days for Life, has said that the California law compelling pro-life pregnancy staff and volunteers to promote abortion is “like the government forcing the American Lung Association to promote cigarettes.”
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, has offered a similar analogy, saying that making pregnancy centers promote abortion is “like the government forcing Alcoholics Anonymous to serve cocktails” at their meetings.
“Freedom of speech includes not only the right to speak without government silencing you but also the freedom not to be forced to speak what you don’t want to say,” said Janae Stracke, National Field Director for Concerned Women for America (CWA), speaking in front of the Court building. “No one should be forced to violate their conscience in order to make the government’s job easier.”
March for Life President, Jeanne Mancini told the crowd of supporters gathered before the Supreme Court: “Today is so critically important because the government shouldn’t have the power to force anyone to speak a message with which it disagrees.”
“Pregnancy centers were established specifically to help women – at no charge – to choose life for their children. The government shouldn’t force them or anyone to advertise for something that directly contradicts the very reason they exist,” she said.
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Protesters, galvanized on both sides of the issue, braved a freakish, unseasonable freezing rain and sleet storm in the Nation’s Capital. For pro-life advocates, the storm could rightly be seen as a metaphor for the chilling of free speech that could be unleashed on America if the justices allow the California law to stand.
Supporters of the pro-abortion law chanted, “End the lies! End the lies!” as they declared Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CLCs) to be “Fake Clinics.” Over and over again, pro-abortion speakers used the terms deception, lies, and misinformation, to describe the work of the pro-life centers while employing the deceptive term, “Reproductive Healthcare” to describe what goes on in abortion clinics.
Glen Northern, Domestic Program Director, of Catholics for Choice was there to support California’s law. He accused the CLCs of deceiving women while coercing, manipulating and bullying them.
“They [CLCs] say this case is about religious rights. They say this case is about freedom of speech. We know this case is about lying to women to further an ideology and to get everyone behind that ideology,” he said.
“This case is about tricking women into making them make the decision that they want them to make, rather than letting the woman decide for herself. Our values as Catholics compel us to support the ‘Fact Act.’ This is common sense legislation that is about truth-telling and transparency,” he added.
Northern, according to his published biography, directs a project “that helps Catholic policy makers in the US clearly articulate prochoice positions grounded in progressive Catholicism.” Before joining CFC, Mr. Northern led constituency building and advocacy efforts at Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. He holds a degree in women’s studies from Williams College.
David Chiu, the California State Assemblyman who wrote the law now under review by the Supreme Court, took to the podium to defend the legislation.
“Three years ago, when I decided to author the Reproductive FACT Act, I didn’t think that it was going to be a big deal – to say that we need to help pregnant women have timely access and accurate information about their reproductive health options,” he said, referring to CLCs being forced to advertise for abortion.
Chiu repeatedly called CLCs “Fake Health Centers,” which, “deceive women with deceptive advertising.”
But Alexandra Desanctis, writing at National Review pulled back the curtain on what is really behind the troubling California law, while exposing the actual big lie being perpetrated on America:
“For all of their talk about the ultimate importance of the ‘right to choose’ and ‘female autonomy,’ Planned Parenthood and NARAL can’t stand the idea that women might freely choose to keep a pregnancy — and that they might be aided in that choice by groups that tell them they don’t need to abort their children in order to be free,” she wrote.
“This animosity toward CPCs is evident from the fact that Planned Parenthood collaborated with California legislators to craft the very text of the FACT Act. The bill is an explicit effort to cripple CPCs and force them to direct their clients toward abortion, which is antithetical to the mission of CPCs and unhelpful to women who wish to keep their pregnancies,” she continued.
“But perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that ‘pro-choice’ groups don’t actually support any choices other than abortion. After all, abortion providers have a vested interest in forcing CPCs to direct clients to abortion rather than helping them keep their babies — just take a look at the way abortion procedures contribute to Planned Parenthood’s bottom line,” she added.
The justices are expected to issue their ruling by the end of June.