The Supreme Court ruled in favor of anti-abortion ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ in California
The conservative-leaning Supreme Court (thanks to Donald Trump’s appointment of Neil Gorsuch shortly after taking office) has been making a bevy of controversial decisions this week — like voting to uphold Trump’s travel ban. Among other alarming decisions, though, is it’s 5-4 ruling to allow crisis pregnancy centers to deceive the pregnant women who walk through their doors.
Crisis pregnancy centers have been shown to promote inaccurate information — like implying they are medical providers while evading questions about whether or not they provide or refer for abortion. The facilities, which are often run by religious organizations and pro-life groups, look and sound just like women’s health centers like Planned Parenthood, but they steer women away from specific medical options like Plan B, birth control, and abortion services. Many women who visit the center have no idea that they are not receiving informed medical care and never learn the full scope of their options. These crisis centers also have a long history of giving false information, such as how big a fetus is at eight weeks, or that abortion can cause breast cancer.
This week’s case reversed a California court’s Reproductive FACT Act, which required “pregnancy crisis centers” to reveal their intentions and inform visitors of all of their medical options, which include birth control and abortion. The state law also required these centers to publicly post that they are not a real medical facility and that they do not employee real medical professionals.
The court ruled in favor of the centers, with the nine judges splitting down party lines. While the judges in the minority argued that women have a right to know who exactly is providing them with care, and why they are doing so, the judges in the majority argued that the deceptive centers have a First Amendment right to free speech — and they shouldn’t be forced to give women important information about their facility or mission.
“Licensed clinics must provide a government-drafted script about the availability of state-sponsored services, as well as contact information for how to obtain them,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote. “One of those services is abortion — the very practice that petitioners are devoted to opposing.”
Women’s rights activists around the country reeled at the decision and pointed out the many dangers it poses to women’s rights, especially a women’s right to choose.
“One vote made all the difference today, and it could also be the only thing between upholding Roe or outlawing legal abortion in America,” NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement. “Fake women’s health centers, with the rest of the well-funded and well-connected anti-choice movement, have been working towards this moment for decades. They have carefully put the pieces together — passing radical and unconstitutional abortion bans, stacking the lower courts — because they are counting on Trump’s Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade. Roe is at greater risk than ever before.”
This is one of several decisions just this week that have women, marginalized groups, and activists worried about just how much ground will be lost due to the conservative Supreme Court — and about the separation of church and state.
So Velveeta isn’t allowed to call itself “cheese” but an unlicensed crisis pregnancy center can pretend to be a medical facility. Okay.
— Laura Sant (@mizsant) June 26, 2018
Crisis pregnancy centers don’t have to tell women the truth because of the first amendment. Ok fair enough. So how exactly does anyone justify the many anti-abortion laws that require doctors to read patients a script telling abject falsities about the risks of abortion?
— Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) June 26, 2018
Five conservative men voted to overturn a state regulation of deceptive "crisis pregnancy centers." Three women and Justice Breyer stood in dissent.
— Angus Johnston (@studentactivism) June 26, 2018
Sorry, crisis pregnancy centers, but if your option is actually the BEST option, you wouldn't be afraid to tell women about abortion. They only fear educating women about their options because there are better options.
— Emily Galati (@emilygalati) June 26, 2018
And some had ideas on what the next step might be — even if fake women’s health centers are allowed to continue lying to the faces of the women who walk through their doors.
If the Supreme Court says crisis pregnancy centers don't have to reveal they are lying to women, I suggest we maybe take out billboards near them to let people know what they are. I would pitch in for that signage.
— April Wolfe (@AWolfeful) June 26, 2018