The Supreme Court ruled California cannot require so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” to provide information about the availability of abortion services elsewhere in the state, a move in favor of anti-abortion clinics that claimed the state law violated their First Amendment rights.
The case, brought by two “crisis pregnancy centers,” challenged a California law called the “California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act, otherwise known as the FACT Act. The law required the clinics to notify pregnant women seeking services that California provides free or low-cost abortion services and tell the women if staff at the center are licensed healthcare professionals.
The clinics argued the California law limited their right to free speech by requiring them to provide information on abortion, which they opposed.
“By requiring petitioners to inform women how they can obtain state-subsidized abortions- at the same time petitioners try to dissuade women from choosing that option-the licensed notice plainly “alters the content” of petitioners’ speech,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the decision.
The Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the clinics on Tuesday, saying that California’s law violated their First Amendment rights because it excluded other kinds of clinics and that the state could inform low-income women about services “without burdening a speaker with unwanted speech.”