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Supreme Court Hands Win to Anti-Abortion Clinics

Blocks part of a California law requiring them to tell patients about abortions provided elsewhere
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2018 11:46 AM CDT
Demonstrators rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Newser) – The Supreme Court delivered good news on Tuesday to faith-based pregnancy centers that oppose abortion. In a 5-4 ruling, the justices blocked key provisions of a California law requiring the clinics to inform patients about low-cost abortions provided elsewhere, reports the Los Angeles Times. While the court did not strike down all of the law, it returned the case to lower courts, with Clarence Thomas writing in his majority opinion that challengers were "likely to succeed." He concluded that forcing the clinics to talk to patients about abortions probably violates their free-speech rights, reports the AP. "California cannot co-opt the licensed facilities to deliver its message for it," Thomas wrote. Chief Justice John Roberts joined him, along with Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch.

The law went into effect in 2016 after lawmakers raised concerns that the anti-abortion pregnancy centers were using "intentionally deceptive advertising and counseling practices," per the LAT. The law was two-pronged, explains NPR. If a center was unlicensed, it had to make that fact prominently known, including in signs and advertising. If the center was licensed but did not provide abortions, it had to post signs saying that the procedures were provided by the state. While the law affects only California clinics, the court ruling could have ramifications in other states. However, as USA Today notes, that might actually be good news for those who support the right to have an abortion. For example, the ruling could possibly be used to strike down laws in conservative states requiring women to have ultrasounds before an abortion. (Read more abortion debate stories.)

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