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OCR Finds the State of California Violated Federal Law in Discriminating Against Pregnancy Centers

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Last week the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it found the state of California violated the federal conscience protection laws known as the Weldon and Coats-Snowe Amendments.

These amendments prohibit states from receiving federal funds if they discriminate against any health organization on the basis that it does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

National Institute of Family and Life Advocates president and founder, Thomas Glessner has issued the following media statement about these findings:

“We are pleased that the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has found evidence that corroborates the SCOTUS ruling in NIFLA v. Becerra—namely, that the state of California violated federal law when attempting to force pregnancy centers to refer for and advertise state-funded abortions.

It is our hope that this decision will reinforce the concept that unconstitutional legislation targeting pro-life pregnancy centers, churches and medical professionals for government-mandated speech will not stand. NIFLA will continue to challenge any and all such legislation targeting its faith-based member centers.”


The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, known as NIFLA, is a national nonprofit organization providing legal counsel, education, and training for pro-life pregnancy centers and medical clinics. Representing a network of nearly 1,500 pregnancy centers across the United States, NIFLA has recently challenged laws in California, Hawaii and Illinois that target its members.

NIFLA Vice President of Legal Affairs Anne O’Connor acted as co-counsel on NIFLA v. Becerra before the Supreme Court. The NIFLA v. Becerra ruling in favor of pro-life pregnancy centers and free speech was released on June 26 of last year.

To book interviews with Anne O’Connor or Thomas Glessner about the ongoing impact of NIFLA v. Becerra or NIFLA’s pending legal action in other states, please contact NIFLA’s media team at [email protected]