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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.

The following statement may be attributed to National Institute of Family and Life Advocates President Thomas Glessner:

“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 is a national nonprofit organization providing legal counsel, education and training for pro-life pregnancy centers and medical clinics. Representing a network of more than 1,500 pregnancy centers across the United States, NIFLA has challenged laws in California and Illinois.

NIFLA argued before the U.S. Supreme Court against legislation targeting the free speech rights of its members in NIFLA v. Becerra. The court issued a verdict in favor of pro-life pregnancy centers in June 2018.

To book interviews with the NIFLA leadership team about NIFLA v. Becerra or other pending legal actions, please contact NIFLA’s media team at [email protected]