Politics & Government

California reproductive clinics must inform clients about abortion services

A federal appellate court on Friday rejected an attempt by reproductive health clinics to block enforcement of a California law requiring the clinics to inform patients that abortions are available elsewhere.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a December ruling by U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller of Sacramento, who denied a motion by three nonprofit clinic operators for a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the law pending a final resolution of the question on the merits. The clinics are run by abortion opponents.

Operators of A Woman’s Friend in Marysville, the Crisis Pregnancy Center of Northern California in Redding and the Alternatives Women’s Center in Escondido challenged the law, claiming it violates their First Amendment rights by forcing them to disseminate information they do not agree with and which is inconsistent with their religious convictions.

But, in an unpublished memorandum, the appellate panel agreed with Mueller that the law survives the level of scrutiny the court is required to apply to professional speech. With respect to the religious claim, the panel again sided with Mueller, declaring that the law “is a neutral law of general applicability, which survives rational basis review.”

Attorney Kevin Snider of the Pacific Justice Institute, who represents the clinics, said he believes the appeals court “committed fundamental error on the law,” and ignored U.S. Supreme Court precedent and contrary rulings in two other circuits. He said he is preparing a request that the 9th Circuit convene an 11-judge panel to reconsider the matter.

Friday’s circuit memorandum was issued by Judges Dorothy Nelson, A. Wallace Tashima and John Owens.

Denny Walsh: 916-321-1189