Federal Judge Upholds California Reproductive Health Info Law
On Monday, a federal judge in California upheld a soon-to-take-effect state law (AB 775) that requires crisis pregnancy centers to provide information about abortion, among other things, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 12/22).
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed AB 775 in October.
The law, by Assembly members David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Autumn Burke (D-Los Angeles), will require CPCs -- which discourage women from seeking abortions -- to offer information about:
- Affordable contraception; and
- Prenatal care.
In addition, unlicensed CPCs will be required to inform patients of their status. The law is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2016 (California Healthline, 10/14).
In November, the Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative legal defense organization, sought an injunction against the law. The group argued that the measure violates the First Amendment rights of CPCs (California Healthline, 11/18).
California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D), who sponsored the legislation, was named as the defendant (Koseff, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 12/22).
Details of Judge's Ruling
According to the AP/Chronicle, U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller rejected the argument that the law violates the centers' right to free speech (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 12/22).
Mueller acknowledged that the notice required under the law is compelled speech. However, she said it simply "provides truthful, non-misleading information to the clinics' clients during their appointments" and "does not otherwise restrict speech."
She also noted that clinics still can:
- Advocate their religious beliefs; and
- Criticize the law "during appointments with their clients."
Mueller wrote, "California has a special interest in protecting and regulating trades that closely concern public health," adding, "Though the public interest favors upholding the First Amendment, the public interest also favors ensuring California women are fully informed as to their reproductive health care options."
According to "Capitol Alert," two more lawsuits against the law still are pending.
A spokesperson for Harris said, "We are pleased by the rulings issued in these two lawsuits and will continue to defend the Reproductive FACT Act to ensure women are able to make informed decisions about their health."
Meanwhile, Matthew McReynolds, a senior staff attorney at Pacific Justice Institute, said the organization would decide in the next few days whether to appeal the ruling, noting that Mueller's decision was "a whole new and unprecedented take on access" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 12/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.