TEMECULA, Calif., Dec. 7, 2015 /Christian Newswire
/ — ICU Mobile Riverside County, a mobile medical pregnancy clinic based in Wildomar, Calif., has filed a lawsuit against the California State Attorney General and other appropriate authorities saying the Reproductive Fact Act requiring nonprofit pregnancy care clinics to promote abortion not only violates their religious freedom, but also their free speech and free assembly rights.
ICU Mobile Riverside County is a subsidiary of the Scharpen Foundation, Inc. (“Foundation”), which is a foundation that also does business as and is publicly known as Go Mobile For Life. The organization is licensed by the State as a medical clinic and provides advocacy and free ultrasound services to pregnant women.
The Act was signed into law two months ago by Gov. Jerry Brown after the California Assembly and Senate passed Assembly Bill 775, which forces all licensed pregnancy care clinics to either post prominent signs in their lobbies promoting abortion or to include the information on their websites or clinic literature. The law is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
Prolife supporters have opposed the law, calling it the “Bully Bill” because it compels workers to promote a state-mandated message that violates their personal and corporate religious beliefs.
“I will not post that notice in our clinic. I would rather close the clinic than post that notice,” said Scott Scharpen, a volunteer pastor and president of the Foundation. “Now, by law, we are required to provide referral information to a woman for services that we find morally and ethically objectionable, namely abortion.”
Advocates for Faith & Freedom is working with Scharpen and the Foundation’s clinic.
Robert Tyler, General Counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom said: “Article 1, section 2 of the California Constitution provides greater protection for free speech
then does the First Amendment. This is why we brought this case in state court as opposed to federal court.” He further stated, “Under the ‘liberty of speech clause’ in the California Constitution, the government has no right to compel individuals or corporations to adopt the government’s view on abortion and has no right to compel them to advertise and promote abortions.”
Advocates for Faith & Freedom, through its legal counsel, Tyler & Bursch, LLP, are seeking a preliminary injunction, which, if granted, will block the law from being implemented while the case is in the court system. They are attempting to have the preliminary injunction heard before the end of the year. A hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction is currently scheduled to occur on December 23, 2015 in Department 07 of the Riverside County Superior Court located at 4050 Main Street, Riverside, Calif.
In the injunction, the Foundation’s attorneys argued that the Reproductive FACT Act is compelled speech in violation of the California Constitution. They additionally argue that the Act does not just compel ICU Mobile Riverside County to speak in a way that may stigmatize its services, but it goes so far as to force the clinic to expressly advance the availability of free abortions, which are contrary to their religious and moral beliefs.
Nada Higuera, co-counsel with Tyler & Bursch, LLP stated, “As a woman, this case is important to me because the services offered by ICU Mobile provide hope and real help to women who need it. It is frightening that our government is forcing ICU Mobile, a pro-life organization, to advance abortion.”
A copy of the complaint filed by Tyler & Bursch, LLP and preliminary injunction are available upon request.
Advocates for Faith & Freedom is a nonprofit public interest organization dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts and is providing support to the law firm Tyler & Bursch, LLP. The law firm services are being provided pro bono. The website for Advocates for Faith & Freedom is www.faith-freedom.com .