Leading a 22-state coalition, Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court challenging a California law requiring pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to post signs about taxpayer-funded abortions. The Reproductive FACT Act forces pregnancy centers to convey a message that directly contradicts their deeply held religious beliefs and mission, which is to provide care for expectant mothers.

“Forcing pro-life organizations to promote a state-sponsored advertisement for the abortion industry is not the tool of a free government,” Attorney General Paxton said. “California’s unlawful Reproductive FACT Act tramples on the constitutionally protected rights of free speech and free religious expression. The Supreme Court should rule against the law to prevent other states from passing similar legislation intended to turn pro-life pregnancy centers into referral agencies for abortions.”

In the brief, Attorney General Paxton and the multi-state coalition ask the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the California law.

“States have a host of alternative means available to disseminate the information that the California law requires certain licensed medical facilities to provide, as well as the regulatory authority to address any actual instances of misrepresentation,” Attorney General Paxton wrote. “California’s law does not relate to informed consent for abortion because it applies to medical facilities where abortions are not performed. It also does not further the State’s interest in protecting unborn life; rather, giving information as to where one might obtain a subsidized abortion has the opposite effect.”

A city of Baltimore law similar to California’s was struck down this month by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Attorney General Paxton joined a 10-state coalition in a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns in its challenge of the ordinance.

“A speech edict aimed directly at those pregnancy clinics that do not provide or refer for abortions is neither viewpoint nor content neutral,” Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote in the ruling. “We do not begrudge the city its viewpoint. But neither may the city disfavor those who disagree.”

Texas is joined in the U.S. Supreme Court brief with Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin, along with Kentucky Governor Matthew Bevin and Maine Governor Paul LePage. 

View the U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief here (PDF).