SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has vowed to appeal after a state Superior Court in Riverside County held that California’s Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act violates the California Constitution.
The Reproductive FACT Act prohibits clinics from providing misleading information about the services they offer to women to deter them from using contraception or abortion services. State-licensed medical clinics in California must now inform women that they can obtain certain basic information about free and low-cost family planning, prenatal, and abortion care. Unlicensed clinics are now required to disclose to all clients that their facility is not a state-licensed medical facility.
“Information is power, and all women should have access to the information they need when making personal healthcare decisions,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The Reproductive FACT Act ensures that women in California receive accurate information about their healthcare options. The California Department of Justice will do everything necessary to protect women’s healthcare rights.”
In The Scharpen Foundation Inc. v. Becerra, the Superior Court previously ruled that the Reproductive FACT Act did not violate the plaintiff’s rights to religious freedom or freedom of assembly under the California Constitution. This week, however, the court indicated that it will enjoin enforcement of the Reproductive FACT Act on the ground that the disclosures requirement for licensed clinics violates the clinics’ free speech rights under the California Constitution.
In addition, there are four federal cases in which courts have rejected similar challenges to the Reproductive FACT Act under the federal Constitution: A Woman’s Friend Pregnancy Resource Clinic v. Xavier Becerra; National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Xavier Becerra; Livingwell Medical Clinic, Inc. v. Xavier Becerra; and Mountain Right to Life v. Xavier Becerra. In each of these cases, the plaintiffs sought preliminary injunctions to prohibit enforcement of the Reproductive FACT Act, claiming that it compelled them to speak in violation of their federal First Amendment free speech rights, and that the Act violated their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. Four federal district courts and the Ninth Circuit court of appeals rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments and refused to grant the preliminary injunctions. The plaintiffs in each of those cases have filed petitions for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court.