Bully bill forces pregnancy centers to promote state-funded abortions

Less than a year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court found that engaging in business doesn’t demand the surrender of speech and faith freedoms. Still, that hasn’t stopped a gaggle of state legislators from trying to impose on pregnancy centers a law mandating they promote abortion services.

That’s right, the California Assembly on Tuesday passed AB 775, a bill that would force pregnancy care centers like those in Bakersfield and Tehachapi to use their lobbies, websites, forms, and literature to promote state-funded free abortions. The bill, backed by a coalition that includes NARAL Pro-Choice and Planned Parenthood, now moves to the Senate.

As the authors of the “Reproductive FACT Act” are well aware, most of California’s 160 pregnancy centers were founded by people of faith to provide women alternatives to abortion. Unlike Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, pregnancy centers receive little-to-no government funding but rely on the support of compassionate individuals, businesses, and churches to offer women pregnancy-related services.

What thanks do they get? A bully bill so glaring in government overreach, it’s hard to know where to begin. Perhaps we could start by asking what other private organizations are compelled to offer free advertising for competing enterprises, especially when the services offered by those enterprises violates deeply held moral standards.

During a hearing on the bill in the Assembly Health Committee in April, Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, attempted to clarify what AB 775 does not do, saying the bill had been mischaracterized.
“It does not require referral to abortion clinics … it doesn’t discriminate based on religion,” said Chiu before approving a bill that forces faith-based pregnancy centers to inform women where they can get free abortions and whom they should speak with to see if they qualify.

Since it was founded in 1985, the Bakersfield Pregnancy Center has served more than 30,000 women and their families, offering pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, parenting classes, and miscarriage and grief counseling, all at no cost to clients or taxpayers. Pro-lifers and people of faith who remain silent while this bill makes its way to the governor’s desk should be ashamed of themselves.

Meanwhile, while lawmakers in California are proving to be incredibly slow learners, our elected reps in Washington must be congratulated for their most recent pro-life victory.

When the House of Representatives failed in January to vote on legislation banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, pro-lifers across the country threw a collective fit, dumping the blame high and wide on House leadership.

Their angst was understandable, though tabling the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act was likely the leadership’s best option at the time. Caught flat-footed at the 11th hour by a contingent of Republican lawmakers in a tizzy over the bill’s rape report requirement, House leaders reluctantly, but wisely, chose to postpone the vote.

A newly revised bill was put to a vote on May 13 and the measure passed mostly along party lines, 242-184. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said working with fellow lawmakers to revise the bill took “a lot of time and effort,” but bringing the life-saving measure back to the floor was a promise he was determined to keep.

“There were some who didn’t think we could do it, but everyone wanted to work toward the same goal,” McCarthy said. “Our commitment to consider this legislation has been steadfast.”

The new bill makes some revisions to the earlier version’s rape exception, which required a woman seeking an abortion after 20 weeks to report the rape to law enforcement. The amended bill allows an adult woman to receive the late-term abortion if she reported the rape, or has received medical treatment or counseling at least 48 hours prior to the abortion.

Now that the House has done the heavy lifting, the Senate has no excuse not to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Our heartfelt thanks to McCarthy and his pro-life colleagues in the House for their eloquent and tenacious defense of life.

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