Media corner: University of Utah law professor available to comment about SCOTUS decision on NIFLA v. Becerra related to free speech and abortion

U.S. Supreme Court decision season continues, with several highly anticipated opinions still on deck for release in coming days.

Among the decisions still undecided is NIFLA v. Becerra, a case that involves a crisis pregnancy center challenging a California law that requires the center to post a notice that they are not licensed doctors, and to inform women that there are state-sponsored family planning services. The justices will clarify what kind of speech the government is allowed to regulate when it comes to crisis pregnancy centers. More specifically at issue is whether the disclosures required by the California Reproductive FACT Act violate the protections set forth in the free speech clause of the First Amendment, applicable to the states through the 14th Amendment.

Professor Teneille Brown

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Professor Teneille Brown is available to speak to media about the legal issues at play in the case and is also available to offer commentary when the opinion is released. She is available by phone at 801-581-5883 and by e-mail at teneille.brown@law.utah.edu. Her research expertise relates to the legal and ethical implications of the biomedical sciences and health care.

Public debate about crisis pregnancy centers has been intense in recent years as outlined in public policy discussion around the topic and in court documents and testimony related to the case, says Brown. Crisis pregnancy centers frequently mislead pregnant women into thinking they are receiving unbiased counseling, when in reality most people who work there are on a religious mission to discourage the woman from getting an abortion, she says.

To respond to the deceptive practices by crisis pregnancy centers in California, the state passed a law requiring the centers to inform pregnant women that they are not licensed medical facilities, and that California has state-funded options for receiving family planning care —also known as California’s FACT Act.  One crisis pregnancy center, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, or NIFLA, sued, arguing California’s law violates their free speech.  The justices’ decision will be an interesting and important finding for First Amendment issues, says Brown.

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