On March 20, The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. This case began after California passed the FACT Act.
The Reproductive FACT Act of California, signed into law October 9th, 2015, forces pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to “disseminate to clients on site the following notice:”
“California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [insert the telephone number].”
If these non-profit centers, providing free services to pregnant women, do not comply, they face significant fines: $500 for the first violation and $1000 for each subsequent violation. These fines can be imposed once every 30 days if non-compliance continues.
The FACT Act exempts any clinic operated by the Federal or State Government or a provider of the Family PACT program, all of which, are required to support abortions and other approved contraceptive methods.
As a result of these exemptions, the State of California has made its intentions clear: non-profit crisis pregnancy centers will toe the state-abortion-line or be, for all intents and purposes, forced out of operation:
- If they choose not to advertise abortion, the fines affect their ability to function.
- If they choose to post the sign, they will, in effect, be advertising abortion for the state.
Three organizations have dared to take a stand: The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, Pregnancy Care Center of California, and Fallbrook Pregnancy Resource Center of California. Together they brought suit against the state of California, slogged through cases and appeals and, on November 13, 2017, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear their case.
Why this case is important
NIFLA v. Becerra has immense implications for the Free Speech rights of all Americans. Like the case of Christian cake artist Jack Phillips, these pro-life centers want to maintain the right not to speak. Phillips doesn’t want to create art that conflicts with his religious beliefs and California pro-life clinics don’t want to advertise the state’s free and reduced cost abortions.
In an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court signed onto by Nebraska Family Alliance, author David French makes the point that, “By requiring pro-life professionals to advertise for free abortions, the state uses its immense power to undermine the very purpose of their professional work.” In the conclusion he states:
“Compelled speech is not the answer to cultural conflict. This court must not render professionals second-class constitutional citizens. It must not upset generations of case law protecting the “individual freedom of mind.” Maynard, 439 U.S. at 714. There are few actions more repugnant to the consciences of sincere, pro-life citizens than demanding that they advertise free or low-cost access to the deadly procedure they work so mightily to oppose.”
First amendment rights protect ALL citizens of the United States. It allows us each to believe, share beliefs, and meet to discuss beliefs without fear of punitive government action or interference. Free speech encompasses not only the right to speak but the right not to speak. This right must be vigorously defended.
The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for NIFLA v. Becerra on March 20, 2018. It is our hope the Court will overturn the 9th District Court of Appeals ruling against the pro-life pregnancy clinics and uphold the First Amendment rights of private organizations.
 Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 564 U.S. 786 (2011). Id. at 799)
 Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 535-37 (1993)