A pro-life group in California was granted a temporary restraining order on free speech grounds after challenging a law, signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA), that stopped them from providing services to pregnant women in their own parking lot.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California ruled Saturday that SB 742, signed by Newsom in October, likely unlawfully discriminates against Right to Life of Central California’s peaceful outreach to women in need.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a nonprofit legal organization working to protect religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life, is representing Right to Life of Central California.
The nonprofit outlined the case on its website:
Right to Life of Central California is challenging a state law that unconstitutionally restricts speech based on viewpoint by creating 100-foot censorship zones outside of any facility that provides any type of vaccine. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 742 into law, immediately banning certain free-speech activities when a speaker is within 30 feet of another person and that other person is “in a public way or on a sidewalk area” and “within 100 feet of the entrance or exit of a vaccination site and is seeking to enter or exit a vaccination site.” This law restricts Right to Life’s ability to peaceably offer charitable services to women in need on the public sidewalk and street outside its own building—and even its own parking lot—because Right to Life is located next to a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic that administers the HPV vaccine.
“Right to Life’s primary means of outreach to women considering abortion is through its Outreach Center, which is located next to Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s main Fresno abortion clinic,” ADF noted. “Right to Life shares free resources, provides support services, and offers informational leaflets while standing on the public sidewalks in front of its Outreach Center and between the Outreach Center and Planned Parenthood’s property. The Outreach Center’s parking lot is adjacent to Planned Parenthood’s parking lot, and the two organizations share a sidewalk. Right to Life’s staff and volunteers speak kindly and peacefully with others at a normal conversational distance to share their charitable support services.”
ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle praised the ruling as a victory for every “speaker in California.”
“Free speech won the day not just for our client, Right to Life, but for every other speaker in California,” Harle said. “We applaud the court’s decision to protect the First Amendment rights of every Californian, regardless of their viewpoint, and halt enforcement of this unconstitutional state law.”
“The court rightly acknowledged SB 742’s double standard in restricting pro-life outreach while permitting other types of speech, such as picketing about a labor dispute,” she added. “We are thankful Right to Life’s staff and volunteers can continue their critical mission of serving vulnerable women in the central California region with their free, life-giving services.”