In a new twist for the debate over “religious freedom,” the state of California will soon require crisis pregnancy centers, often operated by religious institutions, to post a notice disclosing a patients right to have an abortion.
According to the Reproductive FACT act, a sign of large 22-point print on an 8 1/2-by-11-inch piece of paper, will be posted in the lobby of each center.
The sign will read:
“California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [insert the telephone number].”
The law also requires unlicensed clinics to add that the “facility is not licensed as a medical facility by the State of California and has no licensed medical provider who provides or directly supervises the provision of services.”
While the law only compels centers to merely reveal the rights people have under the current abortion laws, many of these institutions are suing the state and ask for the law to be struck down.
“It’s like telling the Alcoholics Anonymous group that they have to have a large sign saying where people can get alcohol and booze for free,” said Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute and participate in the lawsuit.“It’s like telling a Jewish synagogue that they can have their service, and do their thing, but they have to have a large sign where people can go to pray to receive Jesus.”
Listen to a report on the story from NPR in the audio below:
Backers of the law say that many pregnancy centers do give adequate help to women seeking to have babies, but generally give false information to women about alternatives to child birth.
“And I thought, you know what? This is timely — making sure women have the correct information,” said Autumn Burke, representative of Inglewood in the California Assembly and proponent of the new sign. “It’s like a ‘Wash Your Hands’ sign on the wall.”
Some U.S. cities have similar bills that have recently passed, however California is by far the largest jurisdiction in the county to have mandated these requirements. This issue is expected to make its way on up to the Supreme Court since a ruling on the law could have wide implications.
“We will vigorously defend the state law in court,” said Kristin Ford, representing the office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Featured image Flickr