Christians and other pro-life individuals across New York and the nation were horrified when the so-called Reproductive Health Act became law in January 2019. That horror turned to outrage when Gov. Andrew Cuomo lit One World Trade Center in pink to celebrate his “victory.” To make matters worse, New York has enacted an abortion pill insurance mandate and passed a budget that included an insurance mandate requiring coverage for in vitro fertilization (which will likely result in the deaths of “leftover” embryos).
Apparently, pro-abortion politicians and their allies aren’t satisfied with the damage they’ve done so far in 2019. Now, the New York State Senate is advancing a bill that would force pro-life pregnancy centers to make a state-mandated disclosure to prospective clients.
Bill S.2264-Hoylman/A.2352-Glick would compel pregnancy centers, “upon first communication or first contact” with prospective clients, to disclose that they do not provide abortion or birth control services or make referrals for such services. The bill would allow anyone who believes that a crisis pregnancy center has failed to communicate the mandate disclosure to complain to the State of New York; that complaint, in turn, would trigger an investigation by the New York State Department of Health. Violators would be fined. Our organization sees this legislation as an attempt to tie up pro-life pregnancy centers in court and force these non-profit organizations, which exist on limited donations, to eventually close their doors.
Significantly, the bill’s mandated disclosure is not applicable to “licensed health care providers, hospitals, family planning clinics that provide or refer for abortion and/or contraception, or family planning clinics that receive federal Title X funds.” In other words, pro-life pregnancy centers would be impacted by this proposed law, but Planned Parenthood facilities would not.
Pregnancy centers, both in New York and across the nation, provide thousands of pregnant women with free pregnancy tests, parenting skill training, and material support. This bill—in addition to being totally pointless and distracting pregnancy centers from helping pregnant mothers—could very well be unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
In NIFLA v. Becerra, the Supreme Court of the United States heard a constitutional challenge to a crisis pregnancy center disclosure law passed in California. The Court found that California law unconstitutional, noting that content-based restrictions on free speech “‘are presumptively unconstitutional and may be justified only if the government proves that they are narrowly tailored to serve compelling state interests.’” NIFLA v. Becerra, 585 U.S. ____, ____ (2018) (slip op. at 6) (citations omitted). The Court added that its “precedents are deeply skeptical of laws that ‘distinguis[h] among different speakers…’” Id. (slip op. at 19). By targeting only crisis pregnancy centers and excluding four other categories of organizations from its mandated disclosures, distinguishing among different speakers is exactly what Bill S.2264-Hoylman/A.2352-Glick would do. The New York State Legislature should learn from the State of California’s mistake and refrain from passing this bill.
Friends, please contact your state legislators today and help us fight the crisis pregnancy center disclosure bill. Bullying pregnancy centers is not a legitimate exercise of governmental authority.