The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a coalition of pro-life pregnancy centers on Friday, upholding a California law that requires them to refer patients to publicly funded contraception and abortion services, even if doing so violates their moral and religious beliefs.
The decision upheld a lower court ruling saying California law AB 775, or the FACT Act, does not violate the First Amendment rights of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates and two other faith-based nonprofits.
Matt Bowman, senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents the appellants, called the decision a “clear violation” of constitutionally protected rights to freedom of speech and religious expression.
“It’s bad enough if the government tells you what you can’t say, but a law that tells you what you must say—under threat of severe punishment—is even more unjust and dangerous,” Mr. Bowman said in a statement. “In this case, political allies of abortionists are seeking to punish pro-life pregnancy centers, which offer real hope and help to women.”
“Forcing these centers to promote abortion and recite the government’s preferred views is a clear violation of their constitutionally protected First Amendment freedoms,” he continued. “That’s why other courts around the country have halted these kinds of measures and why we will be discussing the possibility of appeal with our clients.”