Bonus Pod: Crisis Pregnancy Centers, SCOTUS and Why We Need to #StopKavanaugh
Crisis Pregnancy Centers are centers that exist to deter pregnant women from receiving abortions. They provide pregnancy tests, anti-abortion counseling and material resources for pregnant women. There are an estimated 2,750 Crisis Pregnancy Centers serving 2.3 million people in the United States today. This number might seem high, but it is actually a low and out of date estimate from 2010. In this episode, we talk to Amy Myrick with the Center for Reproductive Rights about Supreme Court case National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra and what it would mean for Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Kennedy.
Crisis Pregnancy Centers receive funding through private and government sources and have sophisticated marketing and outreach through the internet. It is vital to remember that the way CPCs represent themselves online does not accurately reflect the services that they provide. CPCs often physically position themselves near abortion providers and adopt similar names as to confuse those that are seeking abortions (like Center for Pregnancy Choices).
CPCs don’t make it clear exactly what type of facility they are. They often fail to disclose on their website whether they provide abortion or contraception. These clinics are masked by fake names and misinformation, and those who find them online assume that they offer comprehensive reproductive health care. Women who look at these websites or arrive at the facilities may not be aware that CPCs only offer certain services, and those do not usually include abortion, abortion counseling, or contraception. What results is women being counselled against abortion due to Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ overwhelmingly religious and traditionally Christian agenda.
CPCs in California recently challenged a state law called the FACT Act. The FACT Act affects both unlicensed and licensed CPCs, and seeks to ensure that patients have the general knowledge that there are programs that provide coverage for contraception and abortion care. For clarification’s sake, licensed Crisis Pregnancy Centers were instructed to put up an on-site sign that explained that California has clinics that provide comprehensive reproductive health services, including abortion. Unlicensed CPCs were instructed to display an on-site sign that said it was not a licensed clinic and does not have provision of services. Both licensed and unlicensed centers were required to clarify this in advertising, as well. California CPCs challenged this law under the claims that it violated free speech rights and religious freedom rights under the first amendment. The first stage of litigation in district court stated that neither their freedom of speech or religion rights were violated. California Crisis Pregnancy Centers appealed and the California 9th circuit affirmed that their rights weren’t violated either, so CPCs appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court voted in favor of California’s Crisis Pregnancy Centers under the guise that the required licensed-sign was unconstitutional because it mandated controversial speech about abortion. They further ruled that the unlicensed-sign was unconstitutional because it was unjustifiable.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, while not a champion of reproductive rights or abortion, was often a deciding vote on abortion cases. Donald Trump has continuously promised a litmus test that any of his picks for SCOTUS must oppose Roe V. Wade. With Justice Kennedy’s retirement and the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh you are seeing a turning the balance of the court against women’s constitutional rights, including abortion and that is extremely dangerous. Brett Kavanaugh, the current nominee for Supreme Court Justice, has overt red flags regarding abortion on his record. He has praised Justin Rehnquist’s dissent of Roe and has previously ruled against a young migrant teenager, Jane Doe, when trying to terminate her pregnancy earlier this year.