The following comes from a July 18 story in Pregnancy Help News.
It’s been over a year and a half since clinic administrator Scott Scharpen filed a lawsuit challenging California’s so-called Reproductive FACT Act (also known as AB775), which is the state’s attempt to force pro-life medical clinics to advertise taxpayer-funded abortions.
After over 18 months of waiting, The Scharpen Foundation—which runs a licensed mobile medical clinic in Riverside County—will finally get its day in court July 21.
The clinic’s chance to stand its ground comes after Riverside County Superior Court Justice Gloria Trask rejected Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s request to throw out the case in a June 23 decision.
Becerra, who inherited the case from now-U.S. Senator Kamala Harris—the former state Attorney General—is currently pursuing charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, whose three-year undercover work exposed Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the nefarious buying and selling of body parts harvested from aborted babies.
In her decision to keep the case and set a date for a trial, Judge Trask wrote that, while the State does have a legitimate interest in overseeing healthcare, its restrictions through the Reproductive FACT Act—particularly that pro-life medical clinics include a phone number of where to get an abortion—are problematic both for the clinic itself and for the patient herself.
“The statute distorts the clinic’s speech, which can confuse the patient,” Trask wrote. “The statute interferes both with the right of the clinician to speak and with the right of the patient to hear what the clinician would say in the absence of State censorship.”
Trask went further in her opinion, lambasting the State for forcing pro-life people and groups to advertise abortions when it has several alternatives at its disposal—none of which run aground of free speech and free religious exercise protections.
“The State can deliver its message without infringing upon anyone’s liberty,” Trask wrote. “It may purchase television advertisements as it does to encourage Californians to sign up for Covered California or to conserve water. It may purchase billboard space and post its message directly in front of Scharpen Foundation’s clinic. It can address the issue in its public schools as part of sex education.
“It can require that its signs be prominently posted in every public school classroom and in every women’s restroom located on public property. It can do everything but compel a free citizen to deliver that message.”
When he filed his lawsuit in December of 2015, Scharpen—also a pastor in Murrieta—said he had no intention of posting the abortion notice, which pro-life advocates dubbed the “Bully Bill” as it made its way through the Democratic-heavy legislature without a single Republican vote.