Ruling in favor of Donald Trump's Patented Muslim Travel Ban™ wasn't the only terrible thing the Supreme Court did on Monday: The highest court in the land also decided in favor of "pregnancy crisis centers," which are oddly named pro-life clinics that pretend to offer abortion services and then try to railroad pregnant women into something (anything!) else.
The case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, challenged a California law requiring that so-called pregnancy crisis centers advise women about abortion options as part of their service. SCOTUS ruled that California's law probably violated that center's First Amendment right to free speech and sent the case back to the lower courts for reconsideration.
Pro-life as well as some free speech advocates are hailing this as a victory, but, as former Stranger reporter Ana Sofia Knauf reported last year, these clinics have a history of being big fucking liars. They are frequently run by faith-based, anti-abortion activists, and use scare tactics and misinformation to convince vulnerable women that abortion will, say, cause breast cancer or make them unable to get pregnant later on. A California state law known as the FACT Act (for "Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency") required licensed clinics to post notices about free or low-cost abortions available through the state as well as provide the phone number of state agencies that connect patients to abortion providers. Unlicensed centers, according to the law, were required to make clear in their advertisements that their services do not include licensed medical help, as Dahlia Lithwick explained for Slate.
(As my Grist writer and my former colleague Eve Andrews pointed out on Twitter, "Imagine literally any other form of healthcare regulation being a 'free speech' issue! e.g. 'I advertise myself as a dentist, but actually I am just going to rub your teeth with a microfiber cloth and drizzle essential oils into your mouth. FREE SPEECH!!'")
The Supreme Court case did not actually decide the clinic's First Amendment right was to lie to their clients, but, in their brief to the court, the clinics argued that “forcing a pro-life group to advertise for abortion has to be unconstitutional.” In a 5-4 ruling, the court agreed.
Speaking from the bench for the dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said: “If a state can lawfully require a doctor to tell a woman seeking an abortion about adoption services, why should it not be able, as here, to require a medical counselor to tell a woman seeking prenatal care or other reproductive healthcare about childbirth and abortion services?”
Great question, sir. Alas, the Republicans have control of the Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court, so if you're waiting for things to make sense in America, don't hold your breath... but you better get out and vote.