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New York Catholic Conference opposes bill that “mandates an impermissible form of coerced speech”

by | May 6, 2019

Bill clearly in violation of Supreme Court decision in NIFLA v. Becerra

Editor’s note. The Long Island Catholic reported over the weekend that the New York Catholic Conference has issued a memorandum of opposition to S.2264/A.2352, a measure that “would impose unconstitutional requirements on pregnancy centers in violation of the First Amendment.” The bill has passed through a Senate Committee “and can be voted on by the full Senate at any time. It would force pregnancy centers to disclose to prospective clients the services they do not provide (i.e., abortion), or face stiff penalties.” The full memorandum is reposted below.

NIFLA supporters rally outside the Supreme Court on March 20 as the Court hears oral arguments in NIFLA v. Becerra. In June, the Court sided in favor of pregnancy centers, essentially striking down a California law that required centers to advertise for abortion. Photo Courtesy: NIFLA Facebook

Re: S.2264 Hoylman / A.2352 Glick

In relation to pregnancy centers

This bill would impose unconstitutional requirements on pregnancy centers in violation of the First Amendment. Specifically, it would require that a mandatory, government-designed statement be made by pro-life pregnancy centers to disclose to clients the services they do not provide. It therefore mandates an impermissible form of coerced speech. We urge you to oppose this bill.

The legislation also improperly imposes this message only on certain speakers, and thus is an unconstitutional form of viewpoint-based discrimination. The state would never seek to require any other business to immediately — upon first contact — inform clients of the goods or services they do not provide, either orally or in writing. Yet this is what this onerous and discriminatory bill would require for pro-life centers. The unconstitutionality of this bill is clear in light of the 2018 Supreme Court decision in NIFLA v. Becerra.

Since New York State’s abortion rate is almost twice the national average, it is clear that pregnant women here are not confronting difficulties in obtaining pregnancy terminations. Anyone who believes in “freedom of choice” should therefore allow pro-life pregnancy centers to carry out their mission of providing other options to women facing unplanned pregnancies.

Pro-life pregnancy centers provide valuable services, assisting often frightened and vulnerable pregnant women with alternatives to the abortion procedure. This legislation is an attempt to silence these pro-life voices and shut these centers down. It violates the constitutional guarantee of free speech. We urge you to oppose it.

Categories: Legislation
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