The U.S. Supreme Court this week, in yet another narrow decision, this one titled, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, has struck down a 2015 California law that would have forced pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to advertise abortions, that is, centers established for the very purpose of not doing abortions and providing an alternative to abortion. This patently unjust law would have compelled the centers—many of them religious, with conscientious objections to abortion—to advertise state-subsidized abortion clinics in their waiting rooms and in their handouts to patients.
What’s next? Requiring a synagogue to hand out materials promoting Islam? Requiring Catholic and Southern Baptist churches to give “gay” couples materials on where to go for a same-sex “marriage” ceremony? And with state-leveled fines for non-compliance?
This California law would have allowed for a cumulative fine of $1,000 against each pregnancy center for each instance in which the center were to fail to communicate the abortion option to a client. Policing and enforcing the financial penalties alone would have been a bureaucratic mess. And that’s aside from the obvious moral affront.
The pregnancy centers view the law as an unconstitutional infringement upon their free speech rights, not to mention their freedom of religion and conscience. As LifeNews.com described it, “This law sabotages freedom of speech by forcing organizations to encourage actions that are in direct opposition to their religious beliefs and counter the mission and purpose of their organizations.”
The high court agreed, but barely. The 5-4 majority opinion was written by Justice Clarence Thomas, who was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Anthony Kennedy, the court swing-vote, who in June 1992 preserved Roe v. Wade by writing the majority opinion in the infamous Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling. The Supreme Court’s four liberals walked in their usual lock-step, with Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor insisting that non-abortion centers counsel abortion as an option.
Once again, liberals’ claims of being titans of free speech collapse in servile obedience to their intolerant ideological agenda.
The 5-4 ruling was a victory for the pro-life cause, but the reality is that this absurd California law should have never gotten this far. The very fact that it did is another sad reminder of how militant the “pro-choice” side is.
To that end, the reactions by the pro-choice movement are telling, and galling:
The Center for Reproductive Rights and the National Abortion Rights Action League insist that pregnancy centers “manipulate and deceive” pregnant women by not advertising the abortion option to them (as if these women had never heard of abortion prior to stepping into the center).
The group Planned Parenthood Action calls these centers “deceptive” and “harmful” to women. It is charging the centers—the vast majority of which are run and staffed by women—with “lying to women, withholding medical information, and cutting off access to care.”
Abortion activist Heidi Hess protests that the high court has “voted to control women,” and has now “set the stage for even more attacks on our reproductive rights.” This was done by the court’s “anti-woman majority,” Hess fumes, and by “five male Supreme Court justices.”
This complaint seems the height of hypocrisy. After all, one of those five male justices, the court’s “moderate” Anthony Kennedy, is considered a hero by “pro-choice” activists for his consistent defense of abortion. And, lest we forget, Ms. Hess, it was an all-male Supreme Court that gave America Roe v. Wade in January 1973. Have you no complaints about the seven male Supreme Court justices who gave you Roe?
Such reactions reveal not only the stridency of the “pro-choice” movement; they also reveal how far too many “pro-choice” activists merit the very label they detest: pro-abortion. Consider:
For decades, these same activists have adamantly refused to advertise or counsel non-abortion options in abortion clinics. There has long been a legislative and grassroots push by pro-lifers to have ultrasound machines installed in abortion clinics and to require that each woman evaluated for an abortion receive an ultrasound first. (This is wise, if not essential, from a medical standpoint alone.) Pro-lifers are not deceptive about why they want ultrasound images: 80-90 percent of women considering abortion change their minds when they see a picture of their unborn baby in their womb. I know women who run crisis pregnancy centers and have told me story after story of women instantly changing their minds the moment they glimpse of a photo of their child.
In fact, one friend who runs a center told me that pregnancy help centers are proliferating at a rapid rate, and in direct proportion to the shrinking number of abortion clinics. That’s the real story here.
Follow the money. Abortion centers are losing business, big-time, to pregnancy help centers that give women alternatives to killing their unborn baby. Thus, pregnancy help centers are a mortal threat to abortion clinics. Abortionists and their defenders want to stop these centers in any way they can.
If an abortion clinic—take the Gosnell clinic in Philadelphia, for example—suddenly lost 80-90 percent of would-be abortions due to clients changing their minds because of ultrasounds, the abortion clinic would go bankrupt. The entire abortion industry would be in jeopardy if ultrasound technology was required.
“Pro-choice” activists know this, which is why they refuse legislation requiring ultrasounds. And how does that refusal help a woman’s “choice?” Do pro-choicers want women to have the maximum information for their best “choice” or not? The tragic truth is that many pro-choice activists want them to have only information that leads to a choice in favor of abortion, not a choice against abortion.
This is not a pro-choice position; it’s a pro-abortion position.
I’ve met women in tears who have told me about walking into a Planned Parenthood clinic and receiving no option but abortion. One woman told me through sobs about her experience in a nearby clinic in the early 1990s. She was an 18-year-old freshman terrified of her parents learning she was pregnant. She hoped that someone, somewhere, on her way to the clinic or inside it, would provide her with options other than abortion. At the clinic, she was given no such option, nor a flicker of compassion. She said the nurses and “doctors” alike treated her with cold indifference. The physical pain was immense, and the emotional pain has never gone away. Her baby was destroyed. She has never gotten over the trauma.
Today, she’s a donor to crisis pregnancy centers. She gives them money to provide abortion alternatives, not to promote abortion. The California law sought to undermine that very purpose. Shame on the “pro-choice” movement and those Supreme Court justices who refuse to understand this. It’s frightening to think that merely one justice flipping would have seen this decision go in favor of California’s sick deranged law.
Paul Kengor is Professor of Political Science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of many books including The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor and Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage (2015). His new books are A Pope and a President and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism (2017).