Brief – Filed by 17 AGs in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates et al v. Becerra et al – Comes Ahead of SCOTUS Arguments on California’s Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency ...
Albany, NY - March 1, 2018 - New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman led 17 Attorneys General in filing a new amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of women’s reproductive health care access, in a case in which the operators of “crisis pregnancy centers” – which counsel women against abortion – are fighting a California state law that requires clinics to inform clients about public programs that provide free or low-cost contraception, abortion, and other family-planning services.
The brief, filed in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates et al v. Becerra et al, argues that state disclosure requirements are vital to ensuring patients have the information they need to make timely, well-informed decisions about their health, safety, and legal rights, and that the amici States have a compelling interest in ensuring they can continue to rely on such modest, factual disclosures to provide key information to their residents.
“Women have a fundamental right to the information they need in order to make personal healthcare decisions,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Basic disclosure requirements are critical to enabling patients to be fully informed as they make important decisions about their health and their pregnancies. Our coalition of Attorneys General will continue to fight to ensure all women have the access to the reproductive healthcare they need.”
Click here to read the full brief, which was led by Attorney General Schneiderman and includes the Attorneys General of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
California’s Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act requires certain state-licensed medical clinics to notify their patients that the county health department offers information about “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.” The Act also requires certain unlicensed clinics to notify their patients that the clinics are not licensed as a medical facility by California.
As the amicus brief filed by the Attorneys General states, “The disclosure rule protects patients by providing them with important information about pregnancy-related services early enough that they can make fully informed decisions about the most appropriate medical care for their circumstances—whether prenatal care of various kinds, or abortion induced by medication or surgery. And the rule preserves clinics’ speech interests by requiring only a neutral disclosure of uncontested facts about the availability of free or low-cost pregnancy-related services—including not only services provided by the clinics (such as prenatal care), but also other services that California has reasonably determined women should be aware of before committing to important healthcare choices affecting their pregnancies.”
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California denied the petitioners’ motion for a preliminary injunction; that decision was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which concluded that the petitioners were unlikely to succeed on their First Amendment challenges because both disclosure rules are narrowly tailored to serve the State’s substantial public health and patient-protection interests. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case on March 20, 2018.