National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Xavier Becerra, Attorney General of California is a case before the Supreme Court about a California law threatening to shut down pregnancy resource centers serving women and children in need.
What is this case about?
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument on NIFLA v. Becerra on Tuesday, March 20. This case deals with important First Amendment freedom issues as related to pregnancy resource centers who work with a pro-life mission.
NIFLA is the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, a non-profit organization established in 1994 to provide legal resources to crisis pregnancy centers. Xavier Becerra is the Attorney General of California. This case is an appeal of a California law, the Reproductive FACT Act passed in 2015, which required pregnancy resource centers to advertise abortion services. The ERLC joined other pro-life ministries in January filing an amicus brief for this case advocating for the center’s First Amendment rights.
Why is this case at the Supreme Court?
Multiple pregnancy resource centers filed lawsuits based on free speech and religious exercise claims immediately following passage of the Reproductive FACT Act. While one religious non-profit was successful in court, most pro-life centers have not been able to be exempted from the regulations.
NIFLA sought a preliminary injunction to prohibit the law’s enforcement. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case and rejected NIFLA’s free speech and religious exercise arguments. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in November 2017, but will hear only NIFLA’s free speech claims.
Why does this case matter?
Forcing pro-life pregnancy resource centers to advertise for abortions is antithetical to their mission. The California law requires these independent centers display information about the availability of low-cost and state-funded abortion services and provide contact information to obtain those abortions. The state forces organizations to violate their values by threat of heavy fines to limit their ability to continue operations.
As ERLC president Russell Moore stated, “The outrageous demands being made in this case strike at the very heart of the freedom this nation has always sought to uphold and protect. Time and again, we see the abortion industry maneuvering to silence any and all dissent that would threaten their industry of death. I'm hopeful the Supreme Court will rule against these efforts that aim to steamroll groups serving vulnerable women.”
Pregnancy resource centers provide pregnancy tests, ultrasound and medical services, abstinence education, options consulting and education, as well as parenting and childbirth classes to mothers whose pregnancies are unplanned, are in vulnerable circumstances, or otherwise at risk of abortion. These mission based centers seek to live out the love of Christ by providing services to women and their unborn children. To require centers to advertise abortion services not only violates the group’s First Amendment rights, but also compromise the ability to carry out their core mission. Laws like the Reproductive FACT Act limit the availability of these critical services to women and children.
When is a decision expected?
We anticipate the justices will issue an opinion this summer. The ERLC will follow the case closely, including hosting a Facebook Live on the steps of the court tomorrow morning after the oral argument, tentatively 11:30am EST. Stay up to date with ERLC for further analysis on this important case. In the meantime, pray for NIFLA’s lawyers making the case, for the justices considering the arguments, and, ultimately, for pregnancy resource centers and the women and children they serve.
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