A Massachusetts congresswoman condemned the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday for blocking a state law that requires “crisis pregnancy centers” to provide women with information about abortion.
U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Melrose, slammed the high court’s 5 to 4 ruling in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, which found that a California law requiring centers operated by abortion opponents to offer information about the procedure likely violates the First Amendment.
The Melrose Democrat argued that the decision to allow crisis pregnancy centers to operate “unchecked” represents “a devastating blow to the rights and health of women.”
“These so-called health centers manipulate, shame and scare women away from comprehensive family planning services using false and medically inaccurate information,” she said in a statement. “The appropriate role of government is to ensure patients receive accurate information on health services.”
Clark argued that the high court’s ruling “flies in the face of that and gives priority to those looking to spread misinformation over the needs of women looking for care.”
The California law, known as the Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care and Transparency Act, sought to require centers to inform women that free or low-cost abortion, contraception and prenatal care are available through public programs — a policy which supporters argued attempted to combat misleading information.
It also required unlicensed clinics to disclose they are not licensed by the state, but did not require them to notify women about the availability of abortion, according to the New York Times.
The crisis pregnancy centers, however, contended that the law violated their right to free speech as it required them to provide information that went against their beliefs.
The Supreme Court held that the FACT Act “unduly burdens protected speech” and “imposes a government-scripted, speaker-based disclosure requirement that is wholly disconnected from the state’s informational interest.”
The court’s ruling reversed that of an appeals court and remanded the case for further proceedings.
Justice Clarence Thomas authored the court’s majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.
Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented.