Feature image from Associated Press
We in America are accustomed to arguments for and against abortion based on the privacy assured in the fourteenth amendment. We aren’t all that used to the Supreme Court using first amendment arguments to allow one side or another to plead its case to women who seek out information prior to the procedure.
But that is just what happened in the most recent Supreme Court decision that gave a victory to those who wish to counsel women away from the procedure.
The First Amendment prohibits the government from forcing the centers, which oppose abortion on religious grounds, to post notices at odds with their beliefs, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for a five-justice majority. He was joined by the court’s more conservative members.
“Licensed clinics must provide a government-drafted script about the availability of state-sponsored services, as well as contact information for how to obtain them,” Justice Thomas wrote. “One of those services is abortion — the very practice that petitioners are devoted to opposing.”
California, he wrote, can use other means to tell women about the availability of abortion, including advertising. But “California cannot co-opt the licensed facilities to deliver its message for it,” he wrote.
Meaning that crisis pregnancy centers which do not offer the service do not have to advertise for the facilities that do. Justice Thomas was joined by his fellow jurists Alito and Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts. Justice Anthony Kennedy added his own words to the majority.
“Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions,” he wrote. “Freedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief. This law imperils those liberties.”
Which brings religious liberty into the equation yet again in this SCOTUS session.
The liberals, of course, argued precedent requires a different outcome, but for now, it seems that the court is leaning toward individual liberty in all ways, and that includes speaking in opposition to murdering babies in the womb.