NIFLA Vs Becerra – a big win for women in United States

| June 29, 2018

“The answer to a crisis pregnancy is to eliminate the crisis and not the child.” 

Jeannie W French Founder, National Women’s Coalition for Life

This is the philosophy behind Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs): They exist to solve problems, and solve it in the right way. They do not corner women to make the horrible decision of killing their children to save themselves. This was in jeopardy in NIFLA Vs Becerra. The case which dealt with protecting CPCs from the harassment of state pro abortion policies which tried to enforce CPCs to promote abortion.

CPCs provide real choices. From Pregnancy test and ultrasound services to medical, legal and financial help. Some centers support these women even after childbirth, which clearly shows that they’re not simply pro- birth. They work for real ‘women empowerment’. As Lila Rose said: ‘Women shouldn’t have to kill their children to achieve their dreams’. CPCs, while they vary in the kind of services they provide, are all united in one mission- to eliminate the woman’s crisis. The crisis is not the unborn child. It is her situation, which in most of the case is temporary.

What happens at a CPCs?

A typical CPC is like a one stop resource center with a counselor and a network of people all of whom share the goal of helping the woman make the right ‘choice’. So what are the choices that are offered to a woman in crisis?  Lets take an example of the following situation. Say a young woman is in a crisis pregnancy situation. She’s in college and her family is unable to support and the boyfriend threatens to leave if she doesn’t go through with abortion. The CPC will work with the network of resources and provides the following:

  • Offer to talk to the boyfriend/ family
  • Free pregnancy, ultrasound services, information on pregnancy and childbirth, prenatal development and care, parenting skills, career development etc.
  • Help her with school fees, medical fees and shelter/housing, legal aid etc
  • Help with hospital visits during pregnancy (some CPCs work with shelters coordinating volunteers to provide emotional and spiritual support throughout this process)
  • Throw a baby shower (the mother is not seen as a beneficiary but treated as a friend/family. She is constantly reassured that she is not alone in this situation.)
  • They work with volunteers who are experts in respective fields in providing job related training and references
  • Volunteers help with moving, baby sitting, paying rent and several other tasks
  • Adoption services

Imagine what happens in the absence of CPCs or if CPCs were attacked and forced to provide abortion referrals?

image credit : Students for Life America. SFLA celebrating Supreme Courts decision to protect CPCs

NIFLA Vs Becerra

The NIFLA Vs Becerra is the case in which Prolife CPCs challenged the California state law which forced: 1) medically licensed CPCs to provide information about the availability of free and low cost abortion services 2) non-medical CPCs to inform the clients that they do not have a medical provider in the team.

This was a strategic move. That, in attacking the CPCs with forced speech they aimed to cut women off from their ‘choices’ leaving them with no other option other than abortion. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of CPCs on a 5-4 decision with Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomyor and Kagan voting to force CPCs to provide information on abortion. It is worth noting Justice Kennedy’s concurrence: which summarizes what was at stake in the case.

“It does appear that viewpoint discrimination is inherent in the design and structure of this Act( AB 775 ReproductiveFACT Act). This law is a paradigmatic example of the serious threat presented when government seeks to impose its own message in the place of individual speech, thought, and expression. For here the State requires primarily pro-life pregnancy centers to promote the State’s own preferred message advertising abortions. 

This compels individuals to contradict their most deeply held beliefs, beliefs grounded in basic philosophical, ethical, or religious precepts, or all of these. And the history of the Act’s passage and its underinclusive application suggest a real possibility that these individuals were targeted because of their beliefs. The California Legislature included in its official history the congratulatory statement that the Act was part of California’s legacy of “forward thinking.” But it is not forward thinking to force individuals to “be an instrument for fostering public adherence to an ideological point of view [they] fin[d] unacceptable.”

In commenting on the case Feminists for Life of America President, creator of the Women Deserve Better® than Abortion campaign, and Editor-in-Chief of Serrin Foster praises pregnancy resource centers. She said “They step forward with resources and support when pregnant women find themselves in dire need, often alone, and in fear. And they do it from the moment a woman knows she is pregnant and until after the baby is born. They offer seven choices that are best for her — not to have ‘it’ or not — including marital and single parenthood; guardianship and kinship care; and open, closed, and semi-open adoption.” 

Women deserve better choices. Abortion clinics do not provide choices. They provide only abortions. NIFLA Vs Becerra is a huge victory not just for CPCs but for women because women deserve better than abortion.

Image Credit : Students for Life America