Pro-life groups fight Hawaii law compelling abortion advertising

Pro-life groups fight Hawaii law compelling abortion advertising

US pro-life organisations have filed a federal lawsuit to halt the enforcement of a new law in Hawaii that requires pregnancy centres to “advertise” contraception and abortion services.

Attorneys for Alliance Defending Freedom, a non-profit and pro-life legal group that supports religious freedom filed the suit.

They acted on behalf of a centre called A Place for Women, and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, which represents most of Hawaii’s five other pregnancy counselling centres.

The legislation was passed in May, and Gov David Ige signed it into law this month. It compels Hawaii’s six pregnancy care centres to post or distribute information referring clients to state-provided prenatal services that would include contraception and abortion. Failure to provide this information would incur a fine of $500 (€430) for a first offense and $1,000 (€860) for each subsequent offense.

The lawsuit asks the US District Court for the District of Hawaii to declare the law, S.B. 501, unconstitutional.

It lists Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin and Gov Ige as defendants.

Alliance Defending Freedom also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the law, while the case is being considered.

“This is a government-compelled speech issue,” said Hawaii Catholic Conference communications director Eva Andrade. “You cannot force someone to post something against their beliefs.”

The law requires “limited service pregnancy centres” to display “in a clear and conspicuous place” a message on letter-size paper in no less than 22-point-size type.

It would read that Hawaii’s public programmes provide low-cost access to family planning services, including all FDA-approved methods of contraception and pregnancy related services.

“Freedom of speech also means the freedom to not express views that would violate one’s conscience,” said Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Elissa Graves in a news release. “Yet, under this law, Hawaii is forcing pro-life centres and physicians to provide free advertising for the abortion industry against their conscience.”