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Supreme Court mulls California law on anti-abortion facilities

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday tackles a dispute over whether a California law requiring Christian-based facilities that counsel pregnant women against abortion to post signs disclosing the availability of state-subsidized abortions and birth control violates their right to free speech.

The nine justices are set to hear an hour of arguments in an appeal by a group of non-profit facilities called crisis pregnancy centers of a lower court ruling upholding the Democratic-backed 2015 law.

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The case represents a crossroads of two contentious issues: abortion and the breadth of the right to freedom of speech under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. The Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, and the wider issue of abortion rights is not at issue in the case.

Crisis pregnancy centers say they offer legitimate health services but that it is their mission to steer women with unplanned pregnancies away from abortion. They accuse California of forcing them to advertise for abortion even though they oppose it.

 California says some crisis pregnancy centers mislead women by presenting themselves as full-service reproductive healthcare facilities and the law helps ensure these clients are made aware of abortion services available elsewhere.
The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law in 2016 after it was challenged by some of these facilities, finding the statute did not discriminate based on viewpoint.

California’s Reproductive FACT Act, passed by a Democratic-led legislature and signed by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, requires centers licensed as family planning facilities to post or distribute notices that the state has programs offering free or low-cost birth control and abortion services. The law requires unlicensed facilities with no medical provider on staff to disclose that fact.

Abortion rights advocates say the roughly 2,700 U.S. anti-abortion pregnancy centers, including around 200 in California, far outnumber facilities providing abortions.

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The California challengers are the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, an umbrella group for crisis pregnancy centers, and two such facilities in San Diego County. The plaintiffs had told the lower courts that they would not comply with the law.

A win for them could make it harder for Democratic-governed states to impose rules on crisis pregnancy centers, but also could help abortion rights advocates challenge laws in Republican-governed states that impose certain requirements on abortion clinics.

 California said its law does not force crisis pregnancy centers to refer women for abortions, nor does it prevent them from voicing their views on abortion. The state told the justices in legal papers that some centers use incomplete or false medical advice to try to prevent women from having an abortion. Some resemble medical clinics, down to lab coats worn by staff, to try to confuse women into thinking they are at a center offering all options, the state added.
The facilities deny using deceptive tactics.

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A ruling is due by the end of June.

Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Coronavirus data disappears from CDC dashboard after Trump hijacks info

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The Trump administration on Tuesday forced all hospitals and states to make a significant and immediate change in how they report coronavirus patient data, hijacking the information to be funneled into the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

Experts warned the move could allow the administration to politicize the data, hide it, be less transparent, all of which interferes in the real-time usage of information to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

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Driver hits 63-year-old man with his car after he asked him to wear a mask in a store: police

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A Rhode Island driver is being accused of hitting a 63-year-old man with his car after the man had confronted him about not wearing a face mask into a local convenience store.

Local news station WJAR 10 reports that 63-year-old William Beauchene got into an argument this week with a 30-year-old man named Ralph Buontempo, who had gone into the convenience store in the town of Lincoln, Rhode Island without wearing a mask.

Witnesses told police that the two men began yelling obscenities at one another, and that at one point Buontempo slapped a cup of coffee out of Beauchene's hand, which then splashed all over the store manager who had come outside to try to deescalate the confrontation.

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Trump has rolled out a ‘new scam’ amid internal turmoil over Fauci: op-ed

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Writing in the Washington Post this Thursday, Greg Sargent takes a look at the Trump's administration's recent walkback of its attempts to undermine its top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, after they discovered that it wasn't being received by the public so well.

According to Sargent, President Trump's "new scam" is to present the image that his administration actually respects Fauci's advice while continuing to undermine him behind the scenes.

"What’s really going on here is a kind of two-step, a double game," Sargent writes. "Trump and his advisers want him to reap the political benefits of appearing to harbor general respect for Fauci’s expertise, while simultaneously continuing to undermine Fauci’s actual claims about the threat the novel coronavirus will continue to pose — because those claims badly undermine Trump’s reelection message."

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