NIFLA v Becerra: The Nanny State
Welcome to California, where the beaches are fine, the weather is amazing, and the politics are extreme. Contrasted with other states, California stands as one of the few to have no restrictions on abortion. Public opinion on the legality of abortion is nevertheless split, with 40% stating that abortions should be legal and 57% stating it shouldn’t be legal. Concerning the morality of abortion, the nation is even more unsure, with less than 50% on either side advocating for moral acceptance of either side. According to a Marist poll, over 85% of Americans believe that abortion should have some restrictions. However, in California, you can receive an abortion anytime during the pregnancy.
It’s no surprise that Attorney General Xavier Becerra would be on the frontlines defending a bill that forced pro-life clinics to advertise abortions. This is the man who sued Center for Medical Progress leader David Daleiden for releasing videos on the sale of fetal parts by Planned Parenthood. That particular case will be reviewed by the Supreme Court in on March 29th, and based on previous interactions with gag laws, will likely be ruled in favor of Daleiden. The Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act is a similar situation.
The details of the FACT Act are complex, despite the simply titled acronym. First, it separates licensed and non-licensed family planning clinics, specifically looking to Health and Safety Code 1204 to make the differentiation. A list of purposes are relayed in order to separate the general health clinics from family planning clinics. Next, it requires licensed clinics to provide the following text on standard letter paper in at least 22 point type, or in written form with 14 point type, or in digital form in same point type as other disclosures, with written form available.
“California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [insert the telephone number].”
You may note that the phrase clearly states abortion in the notice. For unlicensed facilities, they are required to post the following notice at both the entrance and the inside of their clinic, conspicuously in 48 point font.
“This facility is not licensed as a medical facility by the State of California and has no licensed medical provider who provides or directly supervises the provision of services.”
Well, at least it doesn’t state that California will provide abortions to women. Regardless, the FACT Act contains so many exceptions that even Justice Kagan had to comment that the law might be intended only for “speakers whose speech we don’t like much.” Additionally, these notices must be posted both in English and in the primary threshold languages of Medi-Cal beneficiaries. That means a pro-life clinic in Los Angeles may need to provide the notice in Spanish, Armenian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korea, Vietnamese, Farsi, Tagalog, Russian, Cambodian, and Arabic, as well as English and perhaps “Other Chinese.” In 48 point font, it is my estimate that with no margins the unlicensed phrase takes about half the page. With the 12 languages of, that could cover around a fourth of an entry door to facility and then another 560 square feet inside.
The stupidity of the law is not where most constitutionalists find issues, even though Riverside County already overturned the law and refuses to enforce it. Many pro-life clinics are there to offer themselves as an alternative to abortion. They’ve found a peaceful and helpful method of exercising their moral belief, by establishing clinics and even obtaining proper licenses to provide non-abortion options to women in crisis. Furthermore, they counsel women who’ve undergone abortions and feel regret, helping them in their mental health. They often partner with local churches, giving them a religious foundation and extra community support. This law clearly opposes this mission, requiring these pro-life clinics to point people to services that do not serve their mission. A comparison would be walking into a church where they must inform all people in different languages that their pastor’s sermons aren’t approved by California. Or perhaps it’s more comparable to forcing spas to display advertisements for laser hair removal.
Does California not trust women enough to make their own decisions? The “nanny state” has stepped into parent mode, forcing citizens to take the council of California, rather than the clinic they chose to visit. Women should be furious that the government thinks them incapable of looking up alternative options for themselves. Women should be furious that Becerra is willing to waste their earned money on forcing clinics to advertise for abortion. Women should be furious with California for their poor moral standards, allowing abortion to occur anytime during a pregnancy. The fact is that California is not looking to the health and support of women; lawmakers want to push their “pro-choice” agenda until they make the choices for all women in the state.