Religious-righters and other anti-abortion activists are hailing the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of fake women’s health centers that oppose abortion. The court essentially said a California law requiring those organizations to tell women the truth likely violates free speech protections in the First Amendment. Yet Texas is still enforcing a law requiring abortion providers in real health centers to give misleading information to their patients. What about their free speech rights?
California lawmakers in 2015 passed the Reproductive FACT Act to help ensure women are informed when they seek services regarding a pregnancy. As in Texas and other states, so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” masquerade as full health centers in an attempt to attract women and then dissuade them from considering an abortion. NPR explains how the California law sought to keep those fake health centers from misleading women:
The FACT Act requires unlicensed crisis pregnancy centers to post a sign or otherwise disclose to their clients in writing that the center is not a licensed medical facility and has no licensed medical provider who supervises the provision of services. The disclosure requirement extends to advertising, which anti-abortion pregnancy centers objected to as an attempt to “drown out” their message.
The second provision of the law, dealing with licensed centers, requires clinics that do not provide a full range of reproductive care, including services covered by Medicaid, to post a sign that says the state provides free or low-cost access to prenatal care, birth control and other reproductive care, including abortions.
Anti-abortion, fake health centers objected to being required to tell women the truth, and now the Supreme Court has sided with them in a narrow 5-4 vote in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra.
But anti-abortion activists and politicians continue to support the so-called “Women’s Right to Know Act” in Texas. That law compels providers to tell patients about alternatives to abortion and to give misleading information — such as the falsehood that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer — designed to dissuade patients from choosing the procedure.
The double standard here is hard to miss. But TFN is part of a broad coalition of reproductive health, rights and justice organizations fighting back against this and other laws designed to limit women’s reproductive health care options and end access to abortion in Texas. You can join the movement and help fight back here.