A federal judge has reversed law in Hawaii requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to display information about government contraception and abortion programs.
The judge struck down this law after a recent decision was made by the Supreme Court in the case of Nat’l Inst. of Family & Life Advocates v. Becerra which found a similar statute to be unconstitutional.
In the decision document released on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson wrote, “In light of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Nat’l Inst. of Family & Life Advocates v. Becerra, and the parties’ stipulation for entry of permanent injunction and final judgment in favor of plaintiffs, it is hereby ordered … that Hawaii revised statutes § 321-561(b)-(c) [are] declared to be unconstitutional under the United States Constitution as applied to plaintiffs with respect to plaintiffs’ First Amendment free speech claim.”
In July, A Place for Women Pregnancy Care Center and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates filed suit to challenge the S.B. 501 bill that required all “limited service” pregnancy centers to display or distribute information that states in part:
“Hawaii has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services, including, but not limited to, all FDA-approved methods of contraception and pregnancy-related services for eligible women. To apply online for medical insurance coverage, that will cover the full range of family planning and prenatal services, go to [website].”
Pregnancy centers were also being required to include websites and phone numbers of places where women can obtain these services.
Christian News Network reports that the bill did not explicitly mention abortion as a resource, but many organizations interpreted the phrase “pregnancy-related services” to included abortion since the first draft of the legislation used the word “abortion” in place of “pregnancy-related services.”
A Place for Women Pregnancy Care Center which is operated by a local church, joined by the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates challenged the court ruling finding that the bill required their organization to hand out information that directly violated their religious beliefs.
The legal complaint read, “Thus, Calvary Chapel and NIFLA’s other member centers are subjected by the state to a compelled speech requirement from which all other facilities offering an array of similar health services—but additionally abortion and contraception, to which Calvary Chapel and NIFLA’s other member centers object to providing on religious and moral grounds—are exempted.”
The groups sought a ruling against the bill that would declare that the law was unconstitutional. According to the organization's legal counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Attorney General Doug Chin found that in light of the Supreme Court’s NIFLA v. Becerra ruling the law could not stand.
In a statement on Friday NIFLA President Thomas Glessner said, “Hawaii’s law was particularly egregious.”
Noting that “Not only did it force pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion, it also compelled a church to promote abortion inside its building,”
The statement concluded, “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.”
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