With less than two months before the case heads to the U.S. Supreme Court for oral arguments March 20, the group at the center of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra is calling in a not-so-secret weapon.
Calling upon pro-life friends to join in an ongoing, 24-7 prayer vigil that started Feb. 1 and culminates with a prayer rally on the steps outside the Supreme Court, NIFLA started with 48 days to fill with constant prayer volunteers from around the nation.
As of Friday, just 12 dates are unspoken for on NIFLA’s website.
“NIFLA is grateful for the outpouring of prayer and support in regard to this groundbreaking pro-life case before the U.S. Supreme Court," Anne O'Connor, J.D., NIFLA's VP of Legal Affairs, said. "We believe as it says in Psalm 34:17: 'When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears them.' The Lord will be hearing from some amazing pregnancy center workers and supporters over the next few weeks. We know we can put our trust in Him."
NIFLA, which represents a network of over 1,400 pro-life pregnancy centers and ultrasound-equipped medical clinics, is working together with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to challenge a 2015 state law in California that would force state-licensed pro-life medical clinics to post abortion advertisements on their websites and waiting room walls.
The law, dubbed “the Reproductive FACT Act” by abortion-friendly state lawmakers and abortion-promoting groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood, also requires pro-life pregnancy centers throughout the state that do not offer free ultrasounds to post signage declaring their services non-medical in nature.
Tweet This: The Lord will be hearing from some amazing #prolife workers, volunteers over the next few weeks. #GiveFreeSpeechLife @NIFLA #prolife
Both signage requirements are meant to drive away the very women pregnancy centers seek to serve with life-affirming alternatives to abortion, NIFLA has argued. A superior court judge agreed with that argument in October of 2017, slamming the law as unnecessary government overreach and granting a temporary injunction for a center that runs a mobile ultrasound unit in Riverside County.
None of the approximately 200 pregnancy help centers in California receive state funding of any kind.
As previously reported at Pregnancy Help News:
Similar measures have been struck down as unconstitutional infringements of free speech across the country. In a 2014 decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, for example, justices derided a comparable New York City ordinance, calling it, “a bureaucrat’s dream” with “a deliberately ambiguous set of standards guiding its application.”
Like the New York City edict, California’s law comes equipped with major questions surrounding its application and enforcement. At NIFLA’s challenge before the Ninth Circuit of Appeals in 2016, legal counsel for California’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, was unable to say which authorities in the state, counties and cities would be responsible for enforcing the law.
As the law has marched through the legal system on its way to Washington, D.C., it has remained largely unenforced throughout the state. The only known instance where centers have been forced to comply with the law is in the City of Los Angeles, where City Attorney Mike Feuer leveraged an obscure business regulation against three centers in August 2016.
Part of an ongoing effort from the abortion lobby to squelch or commandeer pro-life speech, California’s law has served as the model for a 2017 mandate in Hawaii that NIFLA and ADF are also challenging in court.
Along with New York City—which has recently revitalized its effort to combat pro-life centers—abortion advocates have failed to make their attempts stick in Austin, Texas and Montgomery County, Maryland—where taxpayers were forced to pay over $330,000 in lawyer’s fees after LifeSiteNews.com’s public records request revealed an unethical collusion between city officials and abortion group NARAL Pro-Choice America.
In December 2017, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the City of Baltimore’s attempt to enforce the same law that had failed in Montgomery County.
Laws forcing pro-lifers to post signage deterring women from their services are currently on the books in Oakland, San Francisco and Hartford, Conn. The Supreme Court's decision is likely to affect all of those laws, as well as in Hawaii and Illinois—which gutted its Healthcare Right of Conscience Act to force pro-life medical professionals to refer for abortions and advise patients on abortion's "benefits" in 2016.
"Through this prayer effort we are uniting the body of Christ across the nation to intercede on behalf of our pro-life centers in California and across the nation," Thomas Glessner, J.D., NIFLA president and founder, said. "We anticipate a mighty release of God's spirit as he responds to this. And in his answer to our prayers we know that justice will be done."