Not content with having legalized abortion, some pro-abortion extremists want to force pro-lifers to promote abortion. And they have passed laws to that effect. In some jurisdictions, pro-life pregnancy clinics must post signs telling clients where they can go to get an abortion.
A judge has just struck down a Baltimore city ordinance requiring pro-life clinics to promote abortion. But a similar California law has been upheld. The Supreme Court has agreed to resolve the issue by taking up the case of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra.
From the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruling, as reported in Court Strikes Down Baltimore Law Forcing Pregnancy Centers to Promote Abortions | LifeNews.com:
“The compelled speech at issue here raises particularly troubling First Amendment concerns. At bottom, the disclaimer portrays abortion as one among a menu of morally equivalent choices. While that may be the city’s view, it is not the center’s.”
The court also found that the ordinance represented an impermissible attempt by the City of Baltimore “to use compelled speech as a weapon to run its ideological foes into the ground,” which risks grave violation of the country’s most cherished freedoms.
The district court found the ordinance furthered no compelling government interest because “there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate that deception actually takes place and that health harms are in fact being caused by delays resulting from deceptive advertising.”
The court of appeals was equally dismissive.
“After seven years of litigation and a 1,295-page record before us, the City does not identify a single example of a woman who entered the Greater Baltimore Center’s waiting room under the misimpression that she could obtain an abortion there,” the court opinion said. . . .
The city argued the ordinance was appropriate regulation of commercial speech. Yet the appeals court found “no indication” of an “economic motivation” at the center, noting the organization’s “clearest motivation is not economic but moral, philosophical, and religious. It provides free services and collects no fees.”
Thus, the court found the ordinance’s real impact was to force “the Center to utter in its own waiting room words at odds with its foundational beliefs and with the principles of those who have given their working lives to it.”
Illustration by Elvert Barnes, via Flickr, Creative Commons License