Faith-based pregnancy centers lost a court bid to withhold information that California provides free or low-cost abortion, family planning and prenatal care for poor women.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White denied the group’s claim that a new state law violates its free speech rights by requiring factual information about abortion and other family planning be truthfully provided.
“The court finds that the public interest would be served by denying the stay pending appeal and allowing the development of governmental policies generated through legislation or regulations developed through presumptively reasoned democratic processes,” he said. He denied the stay pending appeal of the rejected injunction.
California’s Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act, FACT, requires licensed facilities such as the Living well Medical Clinic, to disseminate to its clients a notice showing the state will provide free or low-cost abortions and other services to low-income women.
The law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October, is set to take effect January 1, 2016.
Livingwell and two other nonprofit, faith-based pregnancy care centers sued in the Northern District of California, seeking an injunction against enforcement of the law.
The groups claim the posting of information about abortion services would violate their mission to help women with unplanned pregnancies accept the stresses that come with the pregnancies and provide support and medical services so long as they intend to give birth.
The group said they encourage women through education and outreach to recognize “human life from the moment of conception and to minister in the name of Jesus Christ to women and men facing unplanned pregnancies.”
They argued the mandated state notice of all services “is inconsistent with their religious commitments as they believe that ‘abortion is wrong and have never referred, nor would they refer, a client to have an abortion.’”
White pointed out the law is intended to ensure that women have access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care options.
Case: LivingWell Medical Clinic v. Harris, No. 15-cv-4939JSW