Suit aims to block law making pregnancy centers 'advertise' abortion

By Patrick Downes

pro-life pregnancy resource center and a national network of pregnancy resource
centers have filed a federal lawsuit to halt the enforcement of a new Hawaii
law that requires such centers to “advertise” contraception and abortion

Attorneys for Alliance Defending
Freedom, a nonprofit legal group that supports religious freedom, the sanctity
of human life and other issues, filed the suit July 12 on behalf of a Calvary
Chapel Pearl Harbor center called A Place for Women, and the National
Institute of Family and Life Advocates, which represents most of Hawaii’s five
other pregnancy counseling centers.

The Hawaii Legislature passed
S.B. 501 May 4, and Gov. David Ige signed it into law July 11.

It compels Hawaii’s six
pregnancy care centers 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 for a first
offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

The lawsuit, Calvary Chapel
Pearl Harbor v. Chin, asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii
to declare S.B. 501 unconstitutional. It lists Hawaii Attorney General Douglas
S. Chin and Ige as defendants.

Alliance Defending Freedom also
filed a motion July 12 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.”

S.B. 501 requires “limited
service pregnancy centers” to display “in a clear and conspicuous place” the
following message on letter-size paper in no less than 22-point-size type:

“Hawaii has public programs that
provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning
services, including, but not limited to, all FDA-approved methods of
contraception and pregnancy-related services for eligible women. To apply
online for medical insurance coverage, that will cover the full range of family
planning and prenatal care services, go to Only
ultrasounds performed by qualified health care professionals and read by
advanced clinicians should be considered medically accurate.”

An alternative would be to give
each client a “printed or digital notice” of the message in no less than
14-point-size type.

“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 centers and physicians to provide
free advertising for the abortion industry against their conscience. Because of
the First Amendment’s protections, courts have repeatedly rejected these types
of laws as unconstitutional.”

According to Alliance Defending
Freedom, courts on the U.S. mainland have “invalidated or mostly invalidated”
similar laws in Texas, Maryland and New York City.

Hawaii has six pro-life
pregnancy counseling centers and all have some kind of religious affiliation.
The Pregnancy Problem Center of Hawaii in Oahu was founded by a Catholic, Robert

According to their websites, all
offer pregnancy tests and counseling. Most advertise adoption information,
childbirth classes, abstinence education, and post-abortion recovery
counseling. Some offer ultrasound exams.

Some centers explicitly say they
do not offer abortions or abortion referrals, while offering information about
“abortion methods and risks.”

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Downes is editor of the Hawaii
Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Honolulu.

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