When it came to providing free advertising for the abortion industry, NIFLA (2018) v. Becerra said the California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act violated the First Amendment’s Free Speech and Free Exercise Clause.
Here’s the facts of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. NIFLA (Petitioner) and two other pro-life religious groups sought to prevent the enforcement of the California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act, which was passed to give all California women access to reproductive health services. The pregnancy crisis center argued advertising state funded abortions and the clinic’s status as unlicensed violated their Free Speech and Free Exercise Clause under the 14th Amendment. As a result, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California and the the Ninth Circuit denied the pregnancy clinics motion; however, the Supreme Court agreed to take the case.
The Supreme Court had to answer this issue: Do disclosure requirements of the Act violate the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause?
Now, here’s the rule. The California Reproductive FACT Act violated the First Amendment’s Free Speech clause in regards to it’s requirement for crisis pregnancy centers to tell clients about state-assisted abortions.
In the majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas talked about speakers being targeted. In a long drawn out majority, Justice Thomas did not feel that the speaker should be a target. Instead, he felt the speech of the speaker should be the target. He said the state and it’s Act failed in this regard in targeting the speech; therefore, the Act violated the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment.
In the dissent, Justice Breyer joined by Justice Ginsburg, Justice Sotomayor, and Justice Kagan, argued for women being informed about abortion. Justice Breyer stated in his dissent, saying, “A Constitution that allows States to insist that medical providers tell women about the possibility of adoption should also allow States similarly to insist that medical providers tell women about the possibility of abortion.”
In conclusion, this is case which makes one think. First, it makes one wonder about the size of the abortion industry. Second, it makes one wonder about the extend of the State’s role in the field of abortion. Further, it makes one wonder about the role of advertising, especially in regards to free speech. NIFLA v. Becerra is an interesting case to say the least.