Sunday, 17 January 2021
Chuck Donovan delivers a keynote address at the 2015 Heartbeat International Annual Conference in St. Louis Chuck Donovan delivers a keynote address at the 2015 Heartbeat International Annual Conference in St. Louis

California's "Reproductive FACT Act" Miles Away from Founding Fathers' Vision

In its battle to force pro-life pregnancy centers to violate conscience or face debilitating fines, California’s state government is showing not only its bias toward the abortion industry, but its contempt for the U.S. Constitution, Charlotte Lozier Institute President Chuck Donovan argued in an op-ed published Thursday night.

The article ran in The Daily Signal, an online news source powered by The Heritage Foundation.

Donovan—a former speechwriter for President Ronald Regan and a current board member of Heartbeat International—lambasted the Reproductive FACT Act as deeply out of step with the Founding Fathers’ priority of free speech and free exercise of religion.  

Signed into law Oct. 9 by Gov. Jerry Brown, the so-called Reproductive FACT Act mandates that only pro-life pregnancy help centers—all of which are supported by local communities—post conspicuous signage telling women where and how they can obtain an abortion on the taxpayer’s dime via Medi-Cal.

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The law will force 75 state-licensed free ultrasound facilities, to give each of its clients the following disclaimer, which includes the phone number of a county social services office where a client could obtain an abortion covered by Medi-Cal.

The notice, which the law specifies must either be posted as a public notice in “22-point type,” “distributed to all clients in no less than 14-point font” or distributed digitally “at the time of check-in or arrival,” applies to all pregnancy help medical clinics licensed by the state.  

"California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [insert the telephone number]."

Meanwhile, pregnancy help centers that do not offer medical services will be required to post the following signage in two “clear and conspicuous” places—“in the entrance of the facility and at least one additional area where clients wait to receive services,” as well as in “any print and digital advertising materials including Internet Web sites”.

The font required is to be “in no less than 48-point type” and will read as follows:

"This facility is not licensed as a medical facility by the State of California and has no licensed medical provider who provides or directly supervises the provision of services."

The law, which took effect Jan. 1, follows a pattern of failed attempts by state and local governments to coerce life-affirming pregnancy help centers to advertise for abortion in Maryland, Baltimore (MD), Austin (TX), Washington state and New York City. 

Tweet This: @LozierInstitute prez: #California anti-pregnancy center law violates nation's founding principle of free speech.

A similar effort stalled in the Illinois House of Representatives in the summer of 2015, but could come back into play.

As Donovan points out in his op-ed, the California law is being challenged by a lawsuit from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and National Institutes for Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA).

Three attempts at blocking the bill via preliminary injunction—which took effect Jan. 1 but has yet to be enforced—have proven unsuccessful, but ADF and NIFLA’s Jan. 28 lawsuit for a preliminary injunction is currently being considered by a U.S. district court judge.

Closing out the article, Donovan indicates the vast chasm between the views of Gov. Brown and that of Thomas Jefferson on the role of the government and the Constitution’s priority to protect free speech and the free exercise of religion:

Brown… is just fine with violating pro-lifers’ religious freedom. As he infamously told the recent Paris climate conference, “never underestimate the coercive power of the central state in the service of good.” Or what it mistakes for the good.

Compare Brown’s words with these from Thomas Jefferson in 1809: “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.” May “the rights of conscience” prevail today, as Jefferson so deeply wished.

The brainchild of NARAL Pro-Choice California following—ironically—a purportedly undercover investigation, the Reproductive FACT Act has previously been challenged publically by Heartbeat International’s then-President and now Chairman of the Board Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., in an op-ed printed by the San Jose Mercury News.

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Records obtained by Heartbeat International in June revealed that California's Reproductive FACT Act, was partially based upon a State Assembly-commissioned report from UC Hastings College of Law that strategizes how lawmakers could crack down on community-based non-profit pregnancy help organizations. 

Editor's note: This article has been corrected from its original form as of Feb. 18, 2016. California pregnancy centers not offering ultrasound services are not required to post the notice referring to county social services, as was originally reported.

Jay Hobbs

Part-time thinker, full-time husband, daddy, pastor, and baseball fan, Jay Hobbs served as editor of from its 2015 inception through the spring of 2018. Jay served on staff at Heartbeat International from 2012 to 2018, the last four of those years as Director of Communications and Marketing. Jay's writing has appeared at Newsweek, The Washington Times, The Washington ExaminerThe Federalist, The Daily Signal, The Christian Post, CNS News and The Gospel Coalition, as well as several national pro-life news outlets.

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