Maggie felt like life was closing in on her. The positive sign on a pregnancy test had flashed back at her.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Her parents were committed Christians…a child out of wedlock would break their hearts. The only things she could see ahead of her were disappointment and rejection.
So, she scheduled an appointment with Planned Parenthood. But something happened on her way—she saw a sign for Pregnancy Care Clinic. ‘Free pregnancy test’ read the sign out front.
‘I was terrified,’ Maggie says. ‘Just really clinging to the thought that maybe I was wrong, maybe the test was wrong.
‘My heart was pounding through my chest, and I was so ashamed to have to look anybody in the eyes, even a stranger,’ Maggie says of walking through the door into Pregnancy Care Clinic.
Maggie took another pregnancy test, which confirmed her pregnancy. The nurse suggested she have an ultrasound. For Maggie, the ultrasound not only confirmed her pregnancy, it also confirmed her path forward: ‘I was just washed over with love for that baby. I thought, that’s my baby…even though he was so, so tiny then, there was barely anything to see.’
But the ultrasound had also brought worry with it—there was a chance that Maggie might have miscarried. As Maggie describes it, she walked into the clinic wishing she was not in this position—wishing she did not have a baby to decide to have or not. But now, she knew that she was not only going to have the baby if he stayed alive, but that she actually wanted to have this baby.
A few weeks later, a second ultrasound showed that her baby boy was alive and growing. Today, over a year later, Maggie has a healthy son. She expected rejection by her family and her child’s father. Instead, she was enveloped by love. She and her son’s father are now married.
Maggie’s story might have gone differently if state legislators in California had their way. In 2015, California passed AB 775, which requires pro-life pregnancy centres to post prominent referrals for the abortion industry.
According to the requirements of the law, each licensed pro-life pregnancy centre was to post a large-lettered sign or distribute a document informing women about state-sponsored programs that provide ‘immediate, free, or low-cost access’ to abortions, along with a phone number for the county social services office.
But that’s not all. Pregnancy centres that are not licensed to provide medical care or ultrasounds have to post a sign in large print and in up to 13 different languages that obscured any pro-life message they were trying to communicate to those in their waiting rooms.
In essence, the state is attempting to force pro-life pregnancy centres to provide free advertising for the abortion industry. If the letter of the law is followed, these centres have to put words on their walls that directly undermine their own mission.
Anne O’Connor, Vice President of Legal Affairs for National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), says that the law’s requirements
push out the message that the pregnancy center wants to get out there, and instead replaces it with the language the pro-abortion industry wants us to put in there. The government should be protecting the speech of pregnancy centers, not compelling us to say a message that totally contradicts our whole reason for being.
Planned Parenthood and other abortion-advocacy groups, such as NARAL, unsurprisingly led the charge to get the bill signed into law.
Alliance Defending Freedom stepped in to challenge the law on behalf of NIFLA and several pregnancy care centres. In March 2018, the United States Supreme Court held oral arguments in the case.
Josh McClure manages the clinic that Maggie visited. He says the law presents a crisis of conscience for those working at pregnancy centres.
‘We don’t want to give referral for abortion, because it goes against what we’re here for,’ he says. ‘It goes against the conscience—we don’t want to be a part of that decision, to take a life. If that’s what a client wants to do, that’s her business, but that’s not what we’re about.’
What they’re about is helping mothers from all walks of life through one of the most challenging and profound times in their lives. They’re not about promoting abortion—and far from it.
Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, states:
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Pro-life pregnancy care centres believe wholeheartedly in what Article 3 states. Not only do they think the California law is unconstitutional—they know it forces them to promote actions that directly violate Article 3 of the UDHR.
As Heidi Matzke, director of Alternatives Pregnancy Center in California has said about women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy, ‘In that moment when they’re teetering on the edge of now and their future, women deserve more than a sign posted on a wall. A phone number and an operation do not encompass their value and worth as women, and never can.’
Thankfully, in June 2018 the United States Supreme Court ruled in favour of NIFLA and several pregnancy care centres.
Will you join us?
On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the UDHR, ADF International reaffirms the fundamental understanding that human rights are based on the inherent dignity of each person—whether that person is a scared young woman on her way to a pregnancy centre, the unborn child she is carrying, or the nurse who helps her get an ultrasound. They’re all human, right?
Join us in the promotion and protection of your fundamental freedoms today.
Add your voice by signing The Geneva Statement on Human Rights at www.ImHumanRight.org