Supreme Court takes up First Amendment challenge to California abortion law

The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to take up a First Amendment challenge to a California law that requires licensed pregnancy centers to disseminate information about the availability of state run programs that provide abortions.

The petitioners say they are “life-affirming pregnancy centers” that offer a variety of medical and counseling services for pregnant women to consider options to abortion. Lawyers for the centers say that their clients, out of religious objections, do not refer patients for abortion and that they cannot be compelled to post the notification.

“Based on religious convictions, these clinics strongly object to being compelled to speak the messages required by the Act’s disclosure,” Kevin T. Snider, lawyer for A Woman’s Friend Pregnancy Resource Clinic and Alternative Women’s Center, argued in court papers.

It marks the first time the Supreme Court has agreed to hear an abortion-related case during the Trump administration, and one lawyer behind the challenge, Jay Sekulow, also serves on Trump’s legal team.

The Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals ruled against the centers last year.

The Reproductive FACT Act was passed in October 2015.

The law applies to facilities “whose primary purpose is providing family planning or pregnancy-related services.”

It requires such centers to disseminate a notice that reads: “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.”