The federal government is being asked to rein in state and local demands that pregnancy centers and others promote abortion, even if they have religious objections to the destruction of unborn children.
The dispute popped up in a number of states after pro-abortion state lawmakers and other regulators decided that everyone must promote abortion and set up a requirement that pregnancy care centers do just that.
But that demand, contends the Alliance Defending Freedom, is unconstitutional.
The organization revealed Tuesday it has filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over the cases in Illinois and Hawaii.
The organization confirmed the federal Church and Weldon amendments do not allow states that receive federal funding “to compel medical personal to operate contrary to their conscience or religious beliefs.”
It means that if the pro-abortion advertising requirements are enforced, the state cannot have access to federal funding.
Courts already have issued injunctions against the demands that crisis pregnancy centers in Illinois and Hawaii promote Web addresses or telephone numbers of nearby abortionists.
But ADF said the practice needs to be stopped.
“Government officials shouldn’t be allowed to force anyone to provide free advertising for the abortion industry,” said ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves.
“Furthermore, federal law simply doesn’t allow it. States that compel pro-life doctors and staff to act contrary to their conscience do not qualify for federal funds. We have filed these complaints to inform HHS of what is happening so that it can take action.”
In Illinois, cases are being pursued on behalf of Dr. Anthony Caruso and A Bella Baby OBGYN, and Dr. Tina Gingrich and Maryville Women’s Center in Illinois. In Hawaii, it’s on behalf of A Place for Women.
ADF said the three complaints “explain that the rights of doctors and pregnancy care centers ‘to offer medical assistance to women in need without compromising their religious convictions relating to abortion or abortion-causing drugs are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution’ in addition to federal law, Illinois law, and the Illinois and Hawaii constitutions.”
The Illinois bill is SB1564 demands speech from pro-life people that would violate their oaths as health professionals.
“Specifically, pro-life doctors and pregnancy centers must tell pregnant women the names of doctors they believe offer abortions, that abortion has unspecified ‘benefits,’ and that abortion is a ‘treatment option’ for pregnancy,” ADF said.
In Hawaii, SB 501 “requires pro-life pregnancy care centers, which offer free ultrasound and other prenatal care to pregnant women, to direct women to a state agency that provides abortion referrals.”
Such advertising is demanded through signage, handouts and more.
ADF reported that similar attempts to boost the nation’s abortion industry have been mostly invalidated in Texas, Maryland and New York City, and a request was submitted a few months ago for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case in California.
The complaints to HHS, ADF said, explain how the state attempts to order people to provide a message that violates the rights of those who practice medicine “according to their conscience and religious beliefs.”
The letters explain that under the Church amendment, and the Weldon amendment of 2015, that’s unlawful discrimination.
The physicians and centers have the right, under the First Amendment, “to “offer medical assistance to women in need without compromising their religious convictions relating to abortion or abortion-causing drugs.”
WND reported in July that U.S. District Judge Frederick Kapala ruled in the Illinois case that an amendment to the state’s health care laws likely will be overturned when the issue comes to trial.
He issued a temporary injunction preventing the law’s enforcement until the case is concluded.
“The amended act targets the free speech rights of people who have a specific viewpoint,” he wrote at the time.
The law would require doctors and pregnancy care centers, even those that are pro-life, to promote abortion.
“The government is out of line when it attempts to force Americans to communicate a message that is contrary to their most deeply held beliefs,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Elissa Graves.
“In addition, the state shouldn’t be robbing women of the freedom to choose a pro-life doctor by mandating that pro-life physicians and entities make or arrange abortion referrals. The court was right to halt enforcement of this law while our lawsuit proceeds.”
ADF represents multiple pregnancy care centers, a pregnancy care center network and a doctor in a lawsuit challenging the law.
It’s not a new dispute. WND reported in 2014 almost identical arguments in Montgomery County, Maryland, where an appeals court decided against rules that would restrict the speech of pregnancy centers.