NRL News

California to pay $192K to settle pro-life group’s free speech case

by | Sep 5, 2023

ADF attorneys favorably settle lawsuit on behalf of Right to Life of Central California

By Alliance Defending Freedom

FRESNO, Calif. – To settle a lawsuit brought by Right to Life of Central California, California state officials have agreed to protect the group’s free speech rights and pay $192,706 in attorneys’ fees.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the pro-life group filed a lawsuit in October 2021 after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that unlawfully restricted Right to Life’s speech based on the group’s viewpoint and content by creating 100-foot censorship zones outside of any facility that provides any type of vaccine.

“Women facing unplanned pregnancies deserve to have full support and resources available to them when they choose life for their unborn children, yet the state of California unconstitutionally tried to silence the voices of those advocating on their behalf,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle. “This is a significant victory not only for our client, Right to Life, but for every other speaker in California. The First Amendment protects every Californian, regardless of their viewpoint. Now Right to Life’s staff and volunteers can continue their critical mission of serving vulnerable women in the central California region with their free, life-giving services.”

State law SB 742 banned certain free-speech activities when a speaker is within 30 feet of another person and that other person is “in a public way or on a sidewalk area” and “within 100 feet of the entrance or exit of a vaccination site and is seeking to enter or exit a vaccination site.” As the lawsuit explained, this law restricted Right to Life’s ability to peaceably offer charitable services to women in need on the public sidewalk and street outside its own building—and even its own parking lot—because Right to Life is located next to a Planned Parenthood abortion facility that administers the HPV vaccine.

As part of the settlement, California officials agreed to not enforce the discriminatory parts of the law against Right to Life or any speaker.

Right to Life’s primary means of outreach to women considering abortion is through its Outreach Center, which is located next to Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s main Fresno abortion facility. Right to Life shares free resources, provides support services, and offers informational leaflets while standing on the public sidewalks in front of its Outreach Center and between the Outreach Center and Planned Parenthood’s property.

The Outreach Center’s parking lot is adjacent to Planned Parenthood’s parking lot, and the two organizations share a sidewalk. Right to Life’s staff and volunteers speak kindly and peacefully with others at a normal conversational distance to share their charitable support services.

In light of the settlement of Right to Life of Central California v. Bonta, ADF attorneys have filed a stipulated dismissal of the case. Katie Short of Life Legal Defense Foundation served as local counsel in the case.

Categories: Free Speech