Attorneys are preparing for a court battle over a California pro-life law that an attorney says could eventually impact the free-speech rights of everyone.
The California law forces pro-life pregnancy centers – often called "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs) – to provide bold notices in their offices and in advertising that they do not provide abortions or birth control, and to post where abortions are available and the best prices. Lawsuits were filed in state and federal courts to block AB-775, and thus far four judges have decided not to block the law from going into effect.
Despite the suits going 0-for-4 in court rulings, Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute remains confident of victory in the end.
"A reasonable jurist cannot find that it's constitutional for the government to compel a private, religious, non-profit ministry serving women to have to violate their beliefs and speak something and advertise something that's totally against their very purpose for existence," Dacus argues.
In the most recent rejection, a federal judge in San Diego wrote that the new state law simply "requires medical providers to advise their patients of various types of treatment available" so they are "fully informed when making decision regarding their pregnancies."
While Dacus is disappointed by the rejection of the requests for injunctions to block the law, he points out it's not the final word because all the cases have yet to go to trial. The cases are vital, he argues – and not just for pro-life pregnancy centers.
"We have to reverse this," he urges, "because otherwise the government will have as a matter of precedent the right to be able to compel private individuals, charities, and even ministries to speak things and advertise things that totally go against who they are and what they believe."
Enforcement of the law, says Dacus, would be akin to the government requiring a Ford dealer to tell people they don't sell Chevrolets – then tell them the location of the Chevy dealerships and where they could get the best prices.