Analysis

New California law forces pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion

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California has successfully removed the right to choose – from pro-lifers. On Friday, pro-abortion Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that requires even pro-life, faith-based pregnancy centers provide abortion information, even if it’s against their religious beliefs to do so.

AB775 is known as the Bully Bill because it prevents pro-lifers from exercising their free speech rights. It has been making its way through the California legislative bodies for months, as Live Action News reported earlier this year. And now it’s law.

KCRA reports:

Pregnancy crisis centers often are operated by abortion opponents, and critics say workers imply the facilities provide a range of medical care and have credentials they do not possess.

Under the new law, the centers will be required to offer information about affordable contraception, abortion and prenatal care. Those that are unlicensed also must inform clients of their status.

Backers of the measure include the abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice California.

When the law was being debated, Jonathan Keller, executive director of the California Family Council and California Family Alliance (CFA), said:

Remarkably, AB 775 would turn every Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC) into a state-mandated abortion referral service. The bill would force over 160 PRCs in California to use their lobbies, websites, and literature to promote state-funded ‘free’ abortions, a direct violation of their moral standards. Violators would face heavy fines of at least $500 for each infraction.

But abortion proponents see it the opposite way, as KCRA reports:

Critics say center employees imply the facilities provide a range of medical care and have credentials they do not possess, existing merely to coerce women into continuing their pregnancies. They say the clinics provide false information, including making unproven claims about health risks associated with using birth control or having an abortion.

The authors of the Bully Bill were  pro-abortion Assembly representatives, David Chiu, (D-San Francisco) and Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Los Angeles). The bill had vocal support from NARAL Pro-Choice California, as well as from California’s own Attorney General, Kamala Harris, who is now running for U.S. Senate.  Chiu said in a statement, “A growing and alarming movement is working to mislead women in order to achieve their political ideology.”

But all of the proponents of this bill closed their eyes to the reality that free speech means just that. To force a Catholic-run counseling service, for example, to tell clients how to get an abortion for low or no cost is a conscience violation, and turns civil rights into a farce rather than reality.

Pro-lifers had their own advocates in the legislature.  Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) had fought long and hard to prevent this injustice from being enacted. She said:

“Does the government have a right to tell a newspaper what to write, a preacher what to preach, a private school what to teach? Of course not,” Grove said in arguing against the bill. “So why is it OK for the government to force prolife pregnancy centers against their will to advertise and promote government abortion services?”

Assemblyman James Gallagher also was a vocal and bold opposer of AB775 and challenged the bill’s authors:

Why doesn’t your notice say, ‘adoption’ in it? ‘Free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services, prenatal care, adoption, counseling.’ I don’t see any of those services listed in your notice.

You’re saying that these private (entities) who receive no funding—no government funding whatsoever—they’re completely private, they have to tell about the government-funded programs that are out there, but the same is not true of the government programs. They don’t have to say, ‘There’s these groups out there who have qualified, licensed people.’

Ultimately, the  abortion lobby, combined with a heavy pro-abortion majority of political leaders in the state, won this battle, and now religious conviction in pro-life counseling is illegal.

California’s battle to remove the right of free speech for residents opposed to abortion isn’t new, nor is it a surprise to see the bill signed, but it’s a stark reminder that abortion advocates only advocate the right to choose if it adheres to their choice.

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