Townhall Op-ed: The Most Important Free Speech Case in a Generation Deals With Pro-life Pregnancy Centers

Opinion by Kim Ketola | 2-15-2018

In 2015, California enacted the Reproductive FACT Act, requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to both inform clients that California offers low-cost and free abortions, and to provide them a phone number to access abortion services.

The pretext for the legislation was an undercover investigation by NARAL Pro-Choice California alleging a pattern of medical misinformation and manipulation of women by pregnancy centers. While framing this allegation as a public health threat, no criminal or civil charges were sought. Instead, abortion advocates used the FACT Act as a forced-advertising law, requiring non-profit faith-based pro-life organizations to promote abortion.

Pregnancy centers have taken their challenge of the law to the Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear the case next month. National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra has been called one of the most important cases on free speech in a generation, setting direction for what non-profit organizations may or may not be compelled to say while offering their services to clients.

Sarah Lipton-Lubet of the National Partnership for Women & Families writing for argued that the FACT Act should be accepted as proof that “fake clinics” harm women through deception, misleading practices, shaming and delaying needed care.

To my knowledge, centers have never been found to have broken laws. Nor has any been shut down by local authorities, despite concerted campaigns, notably in MarylandCalifornia and elsewhere. One abortion advocate admitted that even women who may have felt misled by pregnancy centers would have a difficult time proving harm.

So, as the court prepares to hear this important case, we’re calling out abortion advocates’ use of deflection and projection to try to establish a public health threat where none exists. And we present three key ways U.S. abortion policy and practices actually harm women:

Abortion policy and practices deceive women

  • The term “potential life” is not a scientific designation. When used to describe a fetus, “potential life” is a moral and philosophical judgment that doesn’t square with the facts of science. When a woman enters an abortion practice, she may be misled through biased and unscientific opinions such as: “It’s not a baby, just tissue,” “It will be as if you were never pregnant.”
  • Doctors have the legal right to perform abortions as they see fit. Yet, only 14 percent of ob-gyns are willing to perform abortions. That means 86 percent of women will be acting outside of the circle of care they normally enjoy with their actual doctors. This can create problems from an incomplete health history when women choose not to disclose the abortion to their regular doctor, and to the risk of death if abortion providers do not accompany women to the ER when problems arise.
  • Women are routinely told, “It’s safer than childbirth.” This claim has been debunked in peer reviewed journals here and here. Yet abortion advocates have kept the claim going despite the evidence to the contrary here.

Abortion providers mislead women

  • According to several studies, the problem of inadequate and misleading advice from providers is pervasive:
  • 54 percent of women were unsure of their decision, yet 67 percent received no counseling beforehand.
  • 84 percent received inadequate counseling beforehand.
  • 79 percent were not told about alternatives.
  • Many were misinformed by experts about fetal development, abortion alternatives or risks.
  • Prior to completing an abortion, staff may prevent a woman from seeing the ultrasound of their growing babies. Most women, 70 to 90 percent, will choose not to abort after meeting their baby via ultrasound.

Abortion providers outright coerce women and shame their detractors

  • Abortion coercion is common in women’s families and churches, from partners and parents. And it happens in the abortion practices that purport to be offering “choice” as well.
  • Abortion providers and advocates dismiss as “junk science, lies or discredited” the extensive scientific research into the negative health consequences of abortion. Shaming those who investigate abortion safety includes labeling that work as unethical biased mediaconspiracy theory and dismissing it as deceptively edited.

It’s ironic that the abortion industry, fueled by deception and misleading women, annually kills hundreds of thousands of the youngest members of the human family. And, pregnancy centers, operating within all existing laws, are annually saving tens of thousands.

If we want to address a public health crisis related to abortion, let’s start there.

The reality is the high satisfaction ratings reported by clients of pregnancy centers far outweigh the many negative experiences reported by clients of abortion providers.

Abortion advocates may succeed in keeping women in the dark and in manipulating their distress, but they shouldn’t be allowed to compel pregnancy centers to spout their agenda and advance their cause.

(Kim Ketola is the host and executive producer of Cradle My Heart Today, a companion to her award-winning book Cradle My Heart, Finding God’s Love After Abortion. Kim’s radio work earned her induction into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2013. Cradle My Heart is a safe space for listeners to share stories and connect with others who are finding God’s love—especially during unintended pregnancy and after abortion.)

This article first appeared at Townhall and is reprinted here with permission.

Kim Ketola



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