Tell me if this sounds familiar: a government entity passes a law requiring pro-life pregnancy care organizations—entities that offer pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling, adoption referrals, parenting classes and material resources like diapers and baby clothes—to post a message in several designated places within their facilities in one-inch letters and also read it word for word in every phone conversation with anyone who calls. The government-crafted message implies that the center is incompetent to provide the free services it offers by informing women that no licensed medical provider is on premises.
The law doesn’t apply to abortion sellers. It doesn’t apply to hospitals or medical offices that also provide prenatal care. Just pro-life pregnancy care centers. It also contains vague restrictions on advertising and imposes onerous fines for failure to comply.
If you guessed that I’m talking about the 2018 Supreme Court case involving the State of California and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), you would be correct on the facts but wrong on the parties and location.
There’s a new offender attempting to follow in California’s footsteps. Hartford, Connecticut is the latest abortion-supportive government that apparently is unable to understand last year’s NIFLA v. Becerra decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in no uncertain terms that a government cannot compel an ideologically motivated message to be given by an unwilling speaker. And especially in a situation involving abortion and pro-life entities that minister to abortive-minded women.
The factual and legal similarities between the two cases are readily apparent, which makes it all the more perplexing as to why Hartford went ahead and passed the ordinance. Even more disturbing is that Hartford’s city council even paused the implementation of the ordinance in June, 2018 in order to read the recently decided NIFLA decision, and then passed the ordinance anyway. That led the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), representing a local pregnancy care center, to file a federal lawsuit against Hartford in order to stop the city from compelling speech it knows or should have known is unconstitutional because of NIFLA. Add to that the vagueness of parts of the ordinance and the viewpoint discrimination the city is apparently engaging in, and the case is set up for another ADF/free speech win.
Photo from Caring Families Youtube