The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear a case that pits freedom of speech against the right to know.
The case involves the Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act, a California law which requires licensed pregnancy centers to post information about state-funded birth control and abortion services and requires unlicensed centers to inform patients there are no medical providers on site.
The issue here is that pro-life “crisis” centers are being forced to provide patients with information on where they can get an abortion.
Supporters of the law see the FACT Act as nothing more than a neutral public health measure.
“We’re simply trying to make sure the recipient of healthcare information or advice understands exactly what he or she is entitled to in terms of services and that the information is accurate,” explains CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
The law, which was also designed to prevent pro-life facilities from intentionally misleading patients about their options, calls into question whether the government can force you to advocate for something that violates your religious beliefs.
Pro-life advocates insist the law is unconstitutional because it forces pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise a government message about which they disagree.
The FACT Act requires pro-life licensed centers to “point the way to an abortion,” argues lawyer Kristen Waggoner. That “is not simply information.” There is no need for unlicensed centers to disclose their lack of a medical license, adds Waggoner. “They’re not doing anything that requires a license, so why would they need to say that?”
According to Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano, the issue is about freedom of speech, not abortion.
“This is so basic…you would think this was resolved 227 years ago when The First Amendment was adopted,” argues Napolitano. There are religious implications here, but “it’s just speech,” continues Napolitano. “It’s the concept of the government forcing you to express an opinion on a matter of public interest with which you disagree.”
The case will be the first abortion-related issue to reach the Supreme Court under President Trump, and the first since Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed last April.
The Supreme Court is expected to release its final decision on the case in June.