HONOLULU — A Hawaii law requiring pro-life doctors and pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion was struck down by a federal district court Thursday.
“Hawaii’s pro-life, nonprofit pregnancy centers offer free practical resources, information and emotional support to women — no matter what choices those women make,” said Derald Skinner, pastor of Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor and president of “A Place for Women in Waipio,” one of the pregnancy centers involved in the case.
“We’re grateful that the state has backed off its unconstitutional attack on our ministry,” Skinner said in a press release. “Our doors remain open, and we continue to offer love, care and compassion for all women and their precious little babies in our community.”
The case involved a Hawaii law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to notify clients about state programs offering free or low-cost “comprehensive family-planning services,” including abortion.
The law was challenged by Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor’s pregnancy center, “A Place for Women in Waipio,” as well as the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), which has five affiliated pregnancy centers in the state.
NIFLA was involved in a similar case over the summer, with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in its favor in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra.
That decision, a 5-4 ruling in June, blocked a California law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to post information on state programs to obtain a free or low-cost abortion. The Supreme Court sent the case back to a lower court to be reconsidered, saying, “We hold that petitioners are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the FACT Act violates the First Amendment.”
The Hawaii decision, Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor v. Suzuki, cited the Supreme Court’s ruling in striking down the Hawaii regulation.
NIFLA President Thomas Glessner called the ruling “a major victory for free speech and freedom of religion.”
“Hawaii’s law was particularly egregious,” he said in a statement. “Not only did it force pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion, it also compelled a church to promote abortion inside its building.”
The pro-life centers were represented in the case by Alliance Defending Freedom. Kevin Theriot, senior counsel with the alliance and vice president of the Center for Life, praised the court’s ruling.
“No one should be forced by the government to express a message that violates his or her beliefs, especially on deeply divisive subjects like abortion,” he said.
“In NIFLA v. Becerra, the Supreme Court affirmed that we don’t force people to say things they don’t believe. For that reason, the district court was correct to permanently halt Hawaii’s enforcement of Act 200’s compelled-speech requirement.”