US Appeals Court Rules That Religious Clinics Must Pose Options of Abortion

One of the biggest issues outside of Second Amendment rights, discussed both on stage at the Presidential Debate and in political circles across the US, is the right of a woman to choose, or Roe v. Wade. Although a law at the federal level, states across America are trying to exert their own rules and regulations regarding the practice of abortion.

Things like late term or partial abortion, consent rules, and even requiring fetal tissue samples to be collected if a girl is under the age of 14, are all bills that have been challenged and either won or lost.

Religious Clinic

California is quite arguably one of the most liberal states politically in the union and it shows in their legislation. Last Friday, the Federal Appeals Court upheld the constitutionality of California law to require religiously affiliated clinics dealing with pregnancy counseling; to educate their patients about the option of abortion.

The West Coast Trial Lawyers recalls that the law put into motion last January, states that any pregnancy clinic licensed through the state must give their patients; information about the options they have regarding free government programs including low-cost services for prenatal care, family planning, and abortion. Going against the religious beliefs of the organization or not; it became a mandate to give health care option information to a woman seeking medical care.

The mandate affects …

The mandate affects as many as 200 various clinics around the state of California that are affiliated with a specific religious group that is against abortion as a part of their doctrine. Not for profit groups that run the clinics and centers have unsuccessfully tried to sue to block the law insisting that it violates their rights to freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has disagreed with their complaint and believes that the law does not infringe upon first amendment rights for workers or organizations. Judge Dorothy W. Nelson surmised that it is important that the citizens of California have the right to ensure that their rights to medical services like abortion are guaranteed. She maintained in her report that because it is their constitutional right to have access to both; services and adequate information about their abortion options as required by law, the mandate will stand.

The court passed the law…

The court passed the law because statistics showed that low income or poverty stricken women were often not given the proper information needed for family planning and their abortion rights regarding free governmental help and aid. What they also found was that women lacked access to prenatal health and contraception.

There were also instances when religious organizations not only did not provide the necessary information; but they misled women about the options they had available. That led to many women making ill-informed decisions about their own health care options.

The law was upheld …

The law was upheld specifically because religious organizations are not required to give information about abortion; rather they have to simply supply their patients with the information that there are options available outside of the organization that they first sought help from. That in no way infringes on anyone’s freedoms or means that they have to present an argument either for, or against abortion.

The law pertains not only to health care pregnancy centers where actual medical procedures are done but also to counseling centers for pregnancy. The law also speaks directly to those counseling centers that are not licensed by the state. The 9th Circuit concluded that there is a portion of the law that pertains to even those centers that aren’t licensed.

Operators within the state…

Operators within the state who do not supply information about available options during pregnancy counseling may be subject to as much as a five hundred dollar fine for the first offense; and up to one thousand for any further violations. The law gives power to both, the state and the county to bring up charges.

Matthew Bowman, the lawyer who sued on behalf of religious organizations; maintains that the law goes against the religious rights of the organization. He believes that there is a difference between offering women; free advice on what they should do. And pointing them in a direction that goes against everything the institution that they go to for help believes in.

The new law also requires that both non-medical and medical clinics provide notices of patient rights in up to 13 different languages depending on the county. The law will stand, for now, but Bowman believes that it will be countered again in the future.


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