California legislators are pushing a civil war for abortion using pro-abortion virtue signaling veiled as legislation: SB 245 compels private entities and taxpayers to fund abortion on demand; SB 742 limits behavior and speech near any person approaching the entrance of vaccination sites; and AB 1356 criminalizes public pro-life speech outside pro-abortion facilities. All three bill are patently unconstitutional but that doesn’t seem to matter to abortion ideologues.
Federal Law limits Abortion
For most of our nation’s history, state laws governed the practice of abortion. The Supreme Court changed that in its landmark 1973 decision Roe v. Wade. The Court found the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution created a “right to privacy” protecting a pregnant woman’s right to abortion. By recently agreeing to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, the Supreme Court could potentially overturn Roe and its progeny – sending the abortion issue back into the hands of state lawmakers.
In anticipation of the high court’s modification of Roe v. Wade, states are preparing for a potential shift in legal power. While many states have already positioned for an end to abortion should Roe be overturned, California is criminalizing pro-life speech and expanding public funding for abortion.
California’s SB 245 violates federal law to fund the full cost of abortion on demand
Senate Bill 245 will force private entities and taxpayers to fund abortion on demand. This doubles down on California’s existing violation of the Weldon Amendment, forcing all insurance plans, state and private, to absorb the full cost for abortions. Violation of the bill by a health care service plan would be a crime.
SB 245 ignores federal Conscience Protections
The Hyde and Weldon Amendments are part of the conscience protections, collectively known as the “Church Amendments,” enacted by Congress to protect individuals’ and entities’ moral objections to abortion and to restrict use of federal funds to discriminate against those who refuse to perform induced abortions. The Hyde Amendment bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except to save the life of the woman, or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape. The Weldon Amendment prohibits discrimination against health care providers who do not cover elective abortions.
California legislators flagrantly disregard citizens’ rights to these conscience protections. In 2014, California’s Department of Managed Health Care coerced all state employers —including churches— to fund and facilitate elective abortions through their health insurance plans. In 2016, over religious employers’ objections, the Department of Health and Human Services refused to enforce the Weldon Act against California’s Department of Managed Health Care. Although the Trump-era HHS issued a notice of violation to California early in 2020, enforcement has stalled under the new Administration.
And SB 245 violates California’s State Constitution by incentivizing abortion over birth
SB 245 forces companies pick up the tab for abortions, but does not require companies to similarly pay for the cost of giving birth or efforts to adopt. This preference to fund abortions unconstiutionally discriminates against women who want to give birth.
In her letter of opposition before the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, Catherine Short, Esq., Chief Legal Officer of Life Legal Defense Foundation, explained that SB 245 violates the California state constitution because it coerces women to choose abortion over childbirth in violation of Article 1, section 1, of the California Constitution.
Because the bill exempts abortion, but not maternity services, from all cost-sharing, the bill fails to treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally as the California Constitution requires.
California’s SB 742 violates the First Amendment with a Big Floating Censorship Zone
SB 742, as currently drafted, limits behavior and speech within 30 feet of any person if that person is approaching within 100 feet of the entrance of a vaccination site. This type of restriction is referred to as a “floating buffer zone” because it follows the person approaching the vaccination site, and is not fixed.
Under SB 742, if you show someone a sign or offer a person a leaflet within that floating anti-speech zone, you can be charged with a crime of harassment. Yes, harassment! SB 742 broadly defines harassment as “the… approach within 30 feet of another person… for the purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill, displaying a sign to, or engaging in oral protest, education, or counseling with that other person in a public way or on a sidewalk area.”
SB 742 doubles the Censorship Zone
The United States Supreme Court has, on several occasions, ruled on floating buffer zones. The Court ruled a 15 foot floating buffer zone unconstitutional in the case of Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network Of W. New York. In Hill v. Colorado, the Supreme Court upheld an eight foot floating buffer zone, distinguishing the case from Schenck, because the eight foot distance “allows the speaker to communicate at a ‘normal conversational distance,’ … and to remain in one place while other individuals pass within eight feet.”
SB 742 doubles the censorship zone in Schenck and nearly quadruples the zone of the Hill distance. If a fifteen foot floating buffer zone is unconstitutional, then surely SB 742’s thirty foot floating buffer zone is unconstitutional. But California legislators disregard citizens’ first amendment right to free speech in favor of virtue signaling on the issue of abortion. The truth is, many California legislators don’t want you to talk about the life of unborn babies.
California’s AB 1356 violates the First Amendment
In their zeal to silence pro-life speech, the California Assembly has put forth AB 1356, a bill that violates constitutional protections by penalizing pro-life speech.
On its face, AB 1356 unconstitutionally criminalizes the publication of video that identifies anyone in the protected class of people, namely “reproductive health care services patient, provider, or assistant, or other individuals residing at the same home address.” Merely posting an image of any protected person — without any further identifying information such as name or address — violates AB 1356.
The trouble is, the First Amendment protects citizens’ right to photograph and video tape in public places. People frequently use cell phones to record images both to express their political beliefs as well as for personal protection, to document crimes and to identify criminals and potential witnesses to the crime. AB 1356 ignores American citizens’ First Amendment right to take photos and video in public places. Its exception for journalism does not extend to regular citizens.
In the bizzaro world that AB 1356 would create, an individual risks jail time and fines for using his cell phone to record an aggressor within the special protected class of reproductive health care services patient, provider, or assistants who assaults peaceful pro-life protestors filming their constitutionally protected First Amendment activity on a public sidewalk outside an abortion facility.
Thus, AB 1356 fails the three pronged test for legitimate First Amendment time, place and manner restrictions on speech. The bill is not content neutral; it is not narrowly tailored; and it does not provide alternative channels for communicating a pro-life message free from prosecution. Click here and here and here for links to controlling First Amendment precedents.
California’s Wild Wild West Legislation consistently disregards Federal Law by advancing pro-abortion Ideology on an unwilling Populace
In their rush to push a radical abortion driven agenda in advance of the Supreme Court’s re-examination of Roe v. Wade, California legislators are riding roughshod over their own state constitution, federal conscience laws, and the First Amendment itself to silence advocacy defending the self-evident right to life. In so doing, California lawmakers are setting the stage for a second civil war to define the “right to life,” but what do they care? When the main point of legislation is virtue signaling on the issue of abortion, any constitutional argument becomes irrelevant to those very same lawmakers. Once again, it is the people of the state of California who will have to bear the heavy cost of their lawmakers’ negligent disregard for both the federal and state Constitutions.
The writing is on the legislative wall. California lawmakers are already signalling that they do not respect the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment when it comes to abortion. Based on their past disregard of the Weldon Amendment, the Hyde Amendment and both federal and state Constitutions, there is no reason to believe that California legislators will respect the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health – unless the Court upholds the current protections for abortion.
Respect for the laws of our great nation flows from the consent of the governed and binds our nation together. Each of our elected officials has sworn an oath to uphold the U.S. and state Constitution. It is difficult to imagine how common ground can ever be reached when, in the name of virtue signaling, lawmakers knowingly pass bills that blatantly violate the federal and state constitutions, as well as violate the long-held conscious laws of our country.
We have reached a point where every citizen must stand up and speak out against these bills which are an affront to every citizen in our nation and which shake the very foundations upon which our country was established. How can we expect citizens to obey the laws of our land when the example of our lawmakers is lawlessness; when our elected officials virtue signal instead of upholding the fundamental rights of our citizens and the laws of our nation?