The Supreme Court on Tuesday dealt a major blow the pro-choice movement when it struck down a California law requiring anti-abortion clinics to post information pertaining to where women can obtain low-cost abortion and contraception services from the state.
The 5-4 ruling said the law — called the reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care and Transparency Act (FACT) — “likely” violates the First Amendment by requiring “crisis pregnancy centers” to provide information concerning procedures and services they morally oppose. Supporters of the 2015 law insist it exists merely to ensure that these faith-based clinics do not mislead or offer incomplete information to the women seeking help, whether intentionally or not.
Besides requiring clinics to provide signs informing women about the full range of reproductive care available to them through Medicaid and other state services, the FACT Act also required unlicensed “crisis pregnancy centers” to disclose that they are, in fact, an unlicensed medical facility. Detractors called this a form of compelled speech aimed at “drowning out” their message.
The California Legislature found that the roughly 200 centers in the state used “intentionally deceptive advertising and counseling practices that often confuse, misinform, and even intimidate women from making fully-informed, time-sensitive decisions about critical health care.”
Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the court’s opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.
Justice Stephen Breyer read a synopsis of the four liberal justices’ dissent from the bench. “If a state can lawfully require a doctor to tell a woman seeking an abortion about adoption services … why should it not be able to require a medical counselor to tell a woman seeking prenatal care about childbirth and abortion services?” he said.
NARAL President Ilyse Hogue called the decision hypocritical on Twitter, comparing the decision to laws that force doctors to lie. “Make no mistake,” she wrote, “they are setting the stage for a direct hit on Roe v. Wade.”
Former Planned Parenthood director Cecile Richards also tweeted a condemnation of SCOTUS’ decision, saying that the court essentially said “it’s just fine for fake clinics paid for with tax $ to lie to women about their pregnancies and withhold medical information.”
SCOTUS’ blocking of the FACT Act coincides with the Supreme Court’s ruling in support of Trump’s “Muslim ban,” which restricts travel to the U.S. of people from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Venezuela, and Chad.
It’s not surprising how every misogynistic and racist decision that comes from the Supreme Court now is a 5-4 ruling.
h/t New York Times