Monday, 26 September 2016
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NARAL State Director: “If we could we would” regulate free speech for Pregnancy Centers

In case there was any ambiguity to the intent of California’s so-called “Reproductive FACT Act,” NARAL Pro-Choice America’s state director cleared that up Sunday in The Sacramento Bee.

Amy Everitt’s abortion advocacy state chapter has backed the legislation, which would compel life-affirming pregnancy help centers and medical clinics to post state-specified signage advertising abortion. After sponsoring the bill through the state legislature, Everitt teamed with national president Ilyse Hogue to write an op-ed urging Gov. Jerry Brown to sign the bill into law, which he did the next day.

Tweet This: NARAL #California confirms its intent to stifle free speech. #prolife

But she may have been too forthcoming for her own good in Sunday’s paper, where the reporter, Alexei Koseff, pointed out Everitt “dismisses the notion that [the legislation] might infringe on the clinics’ constitutional rights.”

“They are still able to say everything they want to,” Everitt said of community-supported pregnancy centers and medical clinics. “We can’t regulate free speech. If we could we would, but we can’t.”

Everitt went on to say that, while the state cannot directly override a pregnancy center’s right to free speech as protected in the First Amendment, her hope is to send a state-sponsored message directly to clients in a pregnancy center waiting room.

“Run. This is not where you want to be. Run,” Everitt said.

The latest in a litany of attempts at government-compelled speech that were struck down in Baltimore (MD), Montgomery County (MD), Austin (TX), Washington state and New York City, the California “Bully Bill,” as named by its pro-life opponents, would go into effect Jan. 1 unless a judge grants an injunction following a hearing scheduled for Dec. 18.

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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."

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.

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