The push to force pro-life centers to provide free advertising for the abortion industry

November 27, 2017

In The Well and the Shallows, G.K. Chesterton clearly discerned the eugenic motivation that spawned the birth control movement of his day. Chesterton wrote that “birth control” was an intentional misnomer, in that the “proceeding . . . does not control any birth. It only makes sure there shall never be any birth to control.”

Of course, Chesterton knew that such deliberate obfuscation was exactly the point. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, wrote in 1921 that the entire birth control project was animated by a philosophy designed to limit the propagation of “the inferior classes,” including the “mentally and physically defective.” Is it any wonder that proponents of such a program chose the term “birth control” rather than some other, more honest descriptor? The more accurate phrase, “birth prevention,” would have been truthful, but it also would have been “very bad advertising,” in Chesterton’s estimation.

Not surprisingly, Planned Parenthood has taken up its founder’s penchant for linguistic legerdemain on the subject of abortion. It bills itself as “pro-choice,” not because it favors freedom, but rather because the frequent result of being “pro-choice” winds up terminating the life of a child. Calling itself “pro-abortion,” “pro-termination,” or “pro-death” would be very bad advertising indeed. So Planned Parenthood positions itself as perfectly content to kindly allow pro-life groups to assist women in bringing their children to term.

But the reality (which would not have surprised Chesterton) is quite the opposite. For years now, Planned Parenthood has been encouraging and advising all-too-eager state and local municipalities to pass laws compelling pregnancy resource centers—which exist to protect unborn life and support needy women and their families—to advertise for government-funded abortions. Yes, Planned Parenthood, the supposed paragon of free choice, has waged a deliberate campaign to force pro-life organizations to violate their very reason for being by requiring them to encourage and facilitate abortions. It turns out that, in the eyes of Planned Parenthood, the one type of organization that is not free to choose is the one that defends unborn life and works to make abortion unnecessary and obsolete.

This campaign by Planned Parenthood is the functional equivalent of requiring the Anti-Defamation League to refer inquirers to a site where they can hear defamatory statements about the “Jewish occupation of Palestine,” or compelling the Sierra Club to shill for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. It has no more integrity than either of those hypotheticals, and it should be as universally condemned as they both would rightly be.

Put simply, no place exists for government compulsion to advertise the contrary view to one’s belief. And here, the campaign is made worse by government picking one side in the debate. Imagine Planned Parenthood’s reaction if its abortion facilities were compelled to point the way to pro-life pregnancy centers, provide phone numbers, directions, and websites to facilitate the connection, and declare upon first meeting potential clients that they do not provide services that result in live children. Regardless of one’s political pedigree, this effort should be condemned for what it is—an unconstitutional violation of free speech.

The U.S. Supreme Court has long repudiated government attempts to coerce free citizens into reciting state-scripted messages. Indeed, when West Virginia sought to force students to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools during World War II, the Court rejected such compulsion as incompatible with the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, stating that “no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

That solicitude for the right to free speech applies equally to pregnancy resource centers, despite the efforts of Planned Parenthood and its government allies to pretend otherwise. Many courts across the country have agreed that such laws violate free speech guarantees, striking them down in Austin, TexasMontgomery County, MarylandBaltimoreNew York City. Such rulings, however, have done little to diminish Planned Parenthood’s zeal to compel defenders of unborn life to advertise for abortion.

For instance, in 2015, California passed the Reproductive FACT Act, requiring what it termed “crisis pregnancy centers” to advertise for abortion. California has claimed that such scripted abortion advertisements are necessary to inform women of their healthcare options, but legislators targeted the law to apply almost exclusively to pro-life centers. Though other federal appeals courts have struck down such efforts, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld the law in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. Happily, the decision caught the eye of the Supreme Court, which on Nov. 13 agreed to review the decision.

The Supreme Court’s intervention is much needed, as the 9th Circuit’s decision likely emboldened copycat legislation. For example, Hawaii passed a similar law in 2016 but added even more onerous penalties—enough in fact to cripple and even close down pro-life nonprofits if they refused to be bullied into compliance. And in 2017, King County, Washington, passed a law requiring pregnancy resource centers to post a sign stating that they are not healthcare facilities, thereby interfering with the centers’ relationship with, and attempts to help, pregnant women seeking information and a true range of options for them and their unborn children.

Fortunately, these efforts continue to be met with judicial skepticism. As already noted, the majority of courts to review these laws have struck them down, and a California trial court recently added its name to a roster which is on the right side of fair play, common sense, and constitutionality. In reviewing the Reproductive FACT Act under the California Constitution, Judge Gloria Trask, just weeks ago, found the law an unconstitutional infringement on free speech. In so doing, Judge Trask held that “compelled speech of a political or cultural nature is not the tool of a free government.” She concluded that California was able to “deliver its message without infringing upon anyone’s liberty” and had no need to violate the “individual freedom of mind” held sacrosanct by the Supreme Court.

NIFLA v. Becerra provides the Supreme Court with the opportunity to finally put an end to attempts to compel pregnancy resource centers to advertise for abortion. If Planned Parenthood were as pro-choice as they claim, they too would agree that this is a political strategy that must come to an end.

Ken Connelly

Ken Connelly is legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates and others opposing government efforts to force pregnancy resource centers to provide free advertising for the abortion industry. Read More by this Author

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24