High court rules against Calif. crisis pregnancy center law


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

The Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively put an end to a California law that forces anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers to provide information about abortion.

The 5-4 ruling also casts doubts on similar laws in Hawaii and Illinois.

The California law took effect in 2016. It requires centers licensed by the state to tell clients about the availability of contraception, abortion and prenatal care, at little or no cost. Centers that are unlicensed were required to post a sign that said so. The court struck down that portion of the law.

The centers said they were singled out and forced to deliver a message with which they disagreed. California said the law was needed to let poor women know their options.

Justice Clarence Thomas, in his majority opinion, said the centers “are likely to succeed” in their constitutional challenge to the portion of the law involving licensed centers. That means that while the law is currently on the books, its challengers can go back to court to get an order halting its enforcement. An attorney for the challengers said Tuesday that they expect to be able to do that quickly. California had not been enforcing the law, however.

“California cannot co-opt the licensed facilities to deliver its message for it,” Thomas wrote for himself, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. He called the requirement for unlicensed centers “unjustified and unduly burdensome.”

Justice Stephen Breyer said among the reasons the law should be upheld is that the high court has previously upheld state laws requiring doctors to tell women seeking abortions about adoption services.

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