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U.S. top court to hear case over 'crisis pregnancy centers'

13 November 2017

A fight over the politically motivated reshaping of electoral districts, a major case argued last month, could turn on whether the court finds that Republican-drawn districts in Wisconsin penalize Democratic voters due to their political beliefs, in violation of the First Amendment.

A 2015 Democrat-backed law says these private organizations must clearly inform their clients if they are able to practice medicine and whether health care professionals are on hand. NIFLA [advocacy website], a national network of non-profit pro-life pregnancy centers, argues that the Act is a violation of the Free Speech Clause or the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment [text], which, NIFLA argues should prohibit California from compelling licensed pro-life centers to post information on how to obtain a state-funded abortion and from compelling unlicensed pro-life centers to disseminate a disclaimer to clients.

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear an antiabortion group's challenge to a California law that requires "crisis pregnancy centers" to notify patients that the state offers subsidies for contraception and abortion. On Dec. 5, the justices will hear the case of the Colorado baker who refuses to make a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage and was charged with violating the state's civil rights law.

In those cases as well, courts rejected the challengers' constitutional claims. "The First Amendment protects the right to speak and the right not to speak".

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Even before Monday, the justices had major free speech cases on their agenda.

It is expected that the high court will hear arguments in the case NIFLA vs. Becerra next year and issues a ruling before the end of June.

At the heart of the controversy are "crisis pregnancy centres".

Voters affiliated with the Tea Party said the law infringed on their right to free speech.

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"Information about abortion is just about everywhere, so the government doesn't need to punish pro-life centers for declining to advertise for the very act they can't promote", he added.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals previous year upheld the law.

California lawmakers passed the disclosure law two years ago after concluding the more 200 pregnancy centers in the state sometimes misled or confused women into believing they provided the full range of medical care, including abortions.

In 2014, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, Virginia, struck down a North Carolina law that required abortion providers to show and describe an ultrasound to the pregnant woman. Under the law, doctors faced fines and the possible loss of their medical licenses for discussing guns with patients. NARAL estimates that 4,000 crisis pregnancy centers operate in the U.S. The court most recently backed abortion rights in 2016 when it struck down a Texas law that imposed strict regulations on clinics that provided abortions.

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U.S. top court to hear case over 'crisis pregnancy centers'