by Kelvey Vander Hart
The pro-life movement had a major victory last week in an unexpected state: Hawaii.
A federal judge struck down a recently passed Hawaii law that required pregnancy centers to notify their clients of state-funded “comprehensive family planning services.” This meant that pro-life pregnancy centers were required to give notification of programs offering abortions.
“Hawaii’s pro-life, nonprofit pregnancy centers offer free practical resources, information, and emotional support to women — no matter what choices those women make,” stated Derald Skinner.
Skinner is the president of “A Place for Women in Waipio,” one of the pregnancy centers involved in the case. The center is affiliated with Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor, the church Skinner pastors. National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) was also among those challenging the law, as they have five pregnancy centers in the state.
District Court Judge Derrick K. Watson ruled in favor of the pro-life pregnancy centers in Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor v. Suzuki. His decision cited as precedent a similar case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, which recently came before the Supreme Court.
“Hawaii’s law was particularly egregious,” stated President Thomas Glessner of NIFLA. “Not only did it force pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion, it also compelled a church to promote abortion inside its building.”
The pregnancy centers were represented by Alliance Defending Freedom. Kevin Theriot, senior counsel with ADF, was extremely pleased with the court’s ruling.
“No one should be forced by the government to express a message that violates his or her beliefs, especially on deeply divisive subjects like abortion,” he commented. “In NIFLA v. Becerra, the Supreme Court affirmed that we don’t force people to say things they don’t believe. For that reason, the district court was correct to permanently halt Hawaii’s enforcement of Act 200’s compelled speech requirement.”
Act 200 was signed into law in July by Governor David Ige (D). If pro-life pregnancy centers ignored the mandate to post information about centers that would provide abortions, they would start receiving steep fines for every person they failed to notify. Initial fines were $500, and increased to $1,000 for every occurrence afterward.