LaMalfa, Harris, Daines Lead Charge to Protect Free Speech
(Washington, DC) – Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale), Congressman Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD), and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) issued the following statement after filing an Amicus Curiae brief on behalf of 128 members of the House of Representatives and 16 Senators in support of free speech for pro-life pregnancy centers in the Supreme Court case National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. The case challenges a California state law, the Reproductive FACT Act (AB 775), which requires licensed medical centers that offer free, pro-life help to pregnant women to post written advertisements promoting the availability of free or low cost abortions subsidized by the state. It also requires non-medically licensed centers to note, in multiple languages, that they do not have a medical provider on staff. The Court will consider whether the disclosures required by the FACT Act violate the free speech clause of the First Amendment.
LaMalfa said: “The very nature of the Reproductive FACT Act is a blatant violation of the First Amendment, and is representative of the moral degradation of California’s state government. The sole mission of many of these pregnancy centers is to help foster life, not to advertise abortions. No person or entity can be required by the government to say or promote ideas they do not believe. That’s exactly what’s happening here, and it’s wrong. We’re sending a message to the Supreme Court that they must set a precedent by not allowing liberal elites to bully anyone into sacrificing their constitutionally protected freedoms.”
Harris said: “California’s continued attack on the sanctity of life and complete disregard for the First Amendment can no longer go unchecked. The Reproductive FACT Act clearly violates the Constitutional freedom of speech and freedom of religion guaranteed to all Americans. Forcing an individual or private entity to act in a manner that conflicts with their religious beliefs directly contradicts our nation’s core values. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in defense of unborn children.”
Daines said: “Pro-life pregnancy centers play a critical role in providing life-affirming support to pregnant women facing difficult pregnancy decisions. But under AB 775, these organizations – many of which are religious nonprofits – would be compelled to advertise the very abortions that they are morally opposed to. California’s coercive law does not simply restrict these centers’ speech, it fundamentally alters it – in turn violating the centers’ constitutionally protected conscience rights. I call on the Supreme Court to uphold the First Amendment and strike down this unconstitutional law.”
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who signed on to the Amicus brief, said: “Our state should honor and respect those who offer hope and assistance to our friends and neighbors. Instead, the State of California is targeting pro-life pregnancy centers and forcing them to promote state-funded abortions. This is cruel, unconstitutional, and contrary to our values as a nation. I am grateful that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear this important case. Nobody should be targeted and punished simply for helping expecting mothers with their pregnancy.”
Background on NIFLA v. Becerra:
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed suit against the state of California on behalf of three plaintiffs: National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), Pregnancy Care Center (PCC) and Fallbrook Pregnancy Resource Center (FPRC). The plaintiffs argue that California law AB 775, the Reproductive FACT Act, violates the free speech clause and the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. AB 775 requires medically licensed pro-life pregnancy care centers to post notices alerting clients that the state of California provides free or low cost abortions; the notice must include a phone number for a county office, which refers women to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. Non-medical pregnancy care centers are required to notify clients that they do not have a medical provider on staff, even if they provide no medical services. This notice must be written in 13 different languages, prominently displayed, and included in all advertisements.
Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.