On Thursday, the U.S. District Court for Hawaii struck down a law that would have mandated crisis pregnancy centers post a notice effectively advertising for abortion clinics. In Hawaii, this law would have applied to at least one pro-life church that runs such a center in its church building.
The court cited the Supreme Court case National Institute of Family & Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. That ruling struck down a similar California law as unconstitutional compelled speech that violated the First Amendment. NIFLA had argued that this law — intended to educate women about the availability of state-funded abortion — turned pro-life pregnancy centers into “abortion referral agencies.”
“No one should be forced by the government to express a message that violates his or her beliefs,” Kevin Theriot, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the firm that argued NIFLA before the Supreme Court, said in a statement.
“In NIFLA v. Becerra, the Supreme Court affirmed that we don’t force people to say things they don’t believe,” Theriot added. “For that reason, the district court was correct to permanently halt Hawaii’s enforcement of Act 200’s compelled speech requirement.”
NIFLA President Thomas Glessner emphasized that “Hawaii’s law was particularly egregious.”
“Not only did it force pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion, it also compelled a church to promote abortion inside its building,” Glessner explained. “The state of Hawaii has acknowledged that its attempt to force pro-life centers and churches to advertise its abortion agenda was unconstitutional. This case constitutes a major victory for free speech and freedom of religion.”
NIFLA has five affiliate centers in Hawaii and nearly 1,500 members nationwide. It partnered with ADF to challenge the law on behalf of Calvary Chapel Pear Harbor’s pregnancy center, “A Place for Women in Waipio,” located on the second floor of the church.
“That Hawaii Revised Statutes § 321-561(b)-(c) is declared to be unconstitutional under the United States Constitution as-applied to Plaintiffs with respect to Plaintiffs’ First Amendment Free Speech Claim,” the ruling explicitly declared.
Sadly, Democrats have pushed the narrative that decisions like NIFLA involve conservatives “weaponizing the First Amendment.” Indeed, one of Hawaii’s senators, Mazie Hirono, pushed this line at the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. For this senator to ignore the plight of her own constituents in this key matter is truly egregious.
Churches like Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor should not be forced to advocate for abortion — a practice this particular church considers to be murder.
American pluralism only works if people and organizations — and especially churches! — have the freedom to express what they believe, and are not forced to advocate messages they disagree with. Sadly, Democrats not only advocate for legal abortion in an ever-expanding array of circumstances, but they also push for pro-life pregnancy centers to have to advertise abortion.