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High court issues pivotal free speech ruling in NIFLA v. Becerra: “Gov’t can’t compel Americans to promote a message with which they disagree”
WASHINGTON – In a pivotal free speech decision issued Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against government-compelled speech in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra – the only pro-life case before the Supreme Court this term.
The ruling strikes down a California law that forced pro-life pregnancy centers to provide free advertising for the abortion industry and affirmed that the government can’t force Americans to express messages with which they disagree.
Arguing in defense of pro-life pregnancy centers and women’s right to choose life for more than 25 years, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates – also known as NIFLA — represents a network of more than 1,400 life-affirming centers nationwide. NIFLA appealed the case to the Supreme Court in March of 2017 after the state of California denied their request for an injunction in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“There are over 150 pro-life pregnancy centers in California providing necessary resources to mothers who are contemplating abortion. Such services empower these mothers to choose life and continue their pregnancies,” said Thomas Glessner, NIFLA President and Founder.
The California law, AB 775, required licensed medical centers that offer free, pro-life help to pregnant women to post or distribute a disclosure saying that California provides free or low-cost abortion and contraception services. The disclosure was also required to include a phone number for a county office that refers women to Planned Parenthood and others in the abortion industry.
“The right of free speech protected in the First Amendment not only includes the right to speak, but also the right to not be compelled by government to speak a message with which one disagrees and which violates one’s conscience,” Glessner remarked after the decision was handed down. “The court correctly found that the California law clearly offends this principle. We are very pleased with the court’s decision and for what it means for the many pro-life centers that serve and empower women in California and throughout the country.”
“NIFLA v. Becerra is not just about whether or not to hand out abortion information on a piece of paper or post it on the walls of our pro-life centers. It is about the right belonging to all American citizens to be free from government-compelled speech, and from being coerced into promoting a message that contradicts their values,” added NIFLA Vice President Anne O’Connor, who was co-counsel in the lawsuit on behalf of NIFLA and the pregnancy centers.
“No one should be forced by the government to express a message that violates their convictions,” said Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Michael Farris, who argued on behalf of NIFLA before the Supreme Court in March.
“In this case, the government used its power to force pro-life pregnancy centers to provide free advertising for abortion. The Supreme Court said that the government can’t do that, and that it must respect pro-life beliefs. Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion are essential in a diverse society like ours. They enable us to peacefully coexist with one another. If we want to have freedom for ourselves, we have to extend it to others.”
The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates is a national nonprofit organization which has provided legal counsel, education, and training to pro-life pregnancy centers and medical clinics for more than 25 years. Representing a network of more than 1,450 pregnancy centers across the United States, NIFLA has recently challenged laws in California, Illinois and Hawaii that target their members.
To book interviews with Thomas Glessner or Anne O’Connor about NIFLA’s Supreme Court case or other cases, please contact NIFLA’s media team at [email protected]
If you would like more information about what NIFLA is doing to make a difference in the pro-life movement, please visit www.nifla.org.