Nationwide, CPCs outnumber abortion clinics three to one. While one might think that masquerading as a medical office and dispensing spurious information to vulnerable women should be illegal, these fake clinics aren’t only legally protected, they are also very often the lucky recipients of state funding. That’s right—your tax dollars fund these religious propaganda centers, under the guise of “family planning” welfare programs; at least 12 states are currently financially supporting CPCs using money that could be better spent on services like child care subsidies.Each year, millions of public dollars pour into these fake clinics, which barely offer any services to women, if any at all. It hardly seems controversial to argue that women should be legally entitled to accurate, comprehensive, and unbiased medical information with which they can make their own decisions, but many states have been unsuccessful in their attempts to sanction CPCs by requiring them to meet a standard of transparency.This brings us to a case currently making its way through the Supreme Court: NIFLA v. Becerra, the result of years of legal battles over a California law passed in 2015: the Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act. In a direct attack on CPCs, the FACT Act would require all licensed reproductive health clinics to notify women about affordable family planning and abortion services offered to them by the state, either by handing patients a notice or displaying on on the wall. Any facility without a license would also have to notify their patients that they are not officially recognized as a medical facility. To the average person, this probably doesn’t seem too onerous of a requirement: If you are licensed to provide family planning services, you are legally required to give your patients the full range of information about their options. If you’re not, you have to tell everyone who comes through your door in search of medical advice that you’re not an actual doctor, just a person in a lab coat with a bunch of fetus pamphlets.
Put simply, CPCs are fighting the FACT Act because it makes it harder to mislead and deceive women, which is the foundation of their business model.
If NIFLA wins, California’s transparency law would be unenforceable, and similar laws in other states would likely be overturned, leaving women vulnerable to religious propaganda masquerading as legitimate medical advice. If the law is upheld, conversely, it will provide a path to protect women’s health care access. Let’s hope NIFLA v. Becerra is a way forward, rather than another success for the tyrannical Christian patriarchy.