A federal judge advanced a challenge by anti-abortion centers to the constitutionality of a California law that requires state-licensed health centers to tell patients about state-run free or low-cost health care and family planning services, including abortion.

The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates et al. sued California and San Diego County in 2015, challenging the constitutionality of Reproductive FACT Act — the Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care and Transparency Act — took effect Jan.1, 2016.

The law also requires unlicensed centers to publicize that they are not licensed as medical facilities in California.

Facilities that fail to comply with the act can be fined $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense. A warning notice must be issued, giving the health care facilities 30 days to correct the violation before the civil penalty can be charged.

The health centers, which encourage women to consult religion in making family planning decisions, sought an injunction in January 2016, to restrain state and county officials from enforcing the act and its fines while their civil case was pending.

U.S. District Judge John Houston refused to issue an injunction and the health centers appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which affirmed Houston’s refusal to restrain state and county officials from enforcing the noticing requirements.

On appeal again, Houston ruled on Sept. 29 that the case should not be dismissed based on the Ninth Circuit’s finding that the claims are “constitutionally and prudently ripe.”

Full story at Courthouse News.