In a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a California law that required anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers” to offer information about state-funded family planning and abortion options to pregnant women.
The case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, concerned a 2016 California law that required licensed pregnancy centers to inform women about affordable and publicly funded contraception, abortion, and prenatal care options; additionally, unlicensed centers—though not required to provide information—were required to disclose that they are not licensed by the state.
Basically, the law was designed to help women better understand all of the resources publicly available to them (that may not be provided at a given clinic) before deciding whether to continue a pregnancy.
According to The New York Times, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (and organizations like them) made the argument that being forced to share messages that go against their beliefs violates their right to free speech. The opposition argued that the inclusion of such information would prevent said centers from deceiving women by sharing misleading information.
Previously, a United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco upheld the law. “California has a substantial interest in the health of its citizens, including ensuring that its citizens have access to and adequate information about constitutionally protected medical services like abortion,” Judge Dorothy W. Nelson wrote, adding that notices did not suggest or encourage women to seek abortion, but rather, just presented it as an option.
Shortly after the decision, organizations like NARAL Pro-Choice America took to Twitter to denounce the SCOTUS decision and encourage women to fight to have access to information about their reproductive health.
Similar organizations gathered at the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. to protest the ruling as well as its decision to uphold President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban (it was a busy morning for the justices).