Quantcast
Connect with us

US Supreme Court skeptical toward California law on anti-abortion centers

Published

on

Conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday signaled sympathy toward Christian-based facilities that argued that a California law requiring them to post signs disclosing the availability of state-subsidized abortions and birth control violates their right to free speech.

Several of the justices on a court that has a 5-4 conservative majority expressed concerns that the law was fashioned in order to specifically target the centers, which are staunchly opposed to abortion.

ADVERTISEMENT

Even some of the liberal justices voiced concern over parts of the law during an hour-long argument 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.

Conservative Justice Samuel Alito said that even if the law is neutral on its face, it contains so many exemptions that it appears to target only those with anti-abortion views.

“Is it possible to infer intentional discrimination?” Alito asked California deputy solicitor general Joshua Klein.

Liberal Justice Elena Kagan pressed Klein on the same concerns, wondering whether the law was applied only to “speakers whose speech we don’t much like.”

Klein told the justices that the law was applied where it would be most useful to pregnant women.

ADVERTISEMENT

 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

FACT ACT
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.

Some justices said the law’s application to unlicensed facilities could be unconstitutional. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative who sometimes joins his liberal colleagues in important cases, suggested that if the statute required unlicensed centers to add that disclosure to a billboard that simply stated “Choose Life” – a slogan for people who oppose abortion – it would violate the First Amendment.

ADVERTISEMENT

Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor agreed that such an advertising requirement would be wrong.

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

Demonstrators on both sides of the dispute rallied outside the courthouse on a rainy morning.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

A ruling is due by the end of June.

Reporting by Andrew Chung; Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Pro-Trump reporter John Solomon attacks Fiona Hill for debunking his Ukraine conspiracy theories

Published

on

On Tuesday, National Security Council official Fiona Hill testified that the right-wing narrative Ukraine colluded with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 election — rather than Russia working to help Donald Trump — is a "fictional narrative" and a piece of propaganda promoted by Russia.

One person was enraged at this testimony — John Solomon, the notorious right-wing reporter who covered Ukraine's supposed interference in the 2016 election extensively. He fired off multiple angry tweets attacking Fiona Hill:

How dare Fiona Hill question my patriotism or suggest I was part of a Russian disinformation campaign without a single fact. My sources were all US officials or Ukrainian officials aligned against Russia. Her accusations must have made Joe McCarthy smile up from hell.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Democrats declare there’s enough evidence for a vote on impeaching Donald Trump: report

Published

on

On Thursday, according to CNN House Democrats are announcing that they have enough evidence to move forward with the final vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

Breaking: Dems say enough evidence to move forward on impeachment. Vote likely by mid-December. They will not wait for courts to force additional witnesses - @Phil_Mattingly reporting.

— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) November 21, 2019

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani accuses Mike Pompeo’s State Department of obstruction of justice

Published

on

Keeping track of the Republican defenses of President Donald Trump got a little more difficult on Thursday when his private attorney appeared to throw his Secretary of State under the bus.

Rudy Giuliani suggested Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may have committed obstruction by refusing visas to three Ukrainians the former New York City mayor wants to testify about conspiracy theories.

"The embassy in Ukraine refuses to give visas for three witnesses, two present prosecutors and the former Prosecutor General, who have direct evidence of major Dem corruption in Ukraine in 2016," Giuliani argued.

Continue Reading
 
 

Happy Holidays!

As a special thank you from all of us at Raw, we're offering Raw Story ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. Now 'til Dec. 31st.
Offer Expires In:
close-link