My name is Angela Bennett, and I have the honor of serving as the President, CEO of the SCV Pregnancy Center. We have been serving Santa Clarita families for over 30 years with comprehensive counseling services while providing relevant medical services to those facing an unplanned pregnancy and sexual health decisions. In addition, the Center offers STI testing and treatment, pregnancy confirmations, same-day appointments, sexual health education, HIV screenings and life skills education.
Unfortunately, the State of California is actively and aggressively working to erode our mission to serve our community. As of January 2016, Governor Jerry Brown enacted AB 775 which mandates life-affirming pregnancy centers and state-licensed medical clinics distribute information on where and how to obtain a state-funded abortion. In other words, the State of California can now legally force a non-profit to contradict the very mission it was established to serve.
The bill has been challenged in court by the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA). Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Pacific Justice Institute have also been involved in opposition to the bill since its introduction.
While AB 775 was in committee, hundreds of Santa Clarita residents sent letters, faxes, or placed calls to their representatives in Sacramento requesting a “NO vote on AB 775”. The voice of the Santa Clarita conservative community echoed within the halls of the Capital. As a Santa Clarita resident, I personally went to Sacramento and spoke with as many representatives as possible. The voice of Santa Clarita continued to resonate leading several representatives to ask if there was “a lobby group in Santa Clarita”!
ADF attorneys have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the law the forces pro-life pregnancy care centers to provide free advertising for the abortion industry. Representing 3 California centers, ADF filed a suit earlier this year. A federal district judge declined to issue a preliminary injunction to halt the law while the lawsuit proceeds. The petition to the U.S. Supreme Court asks it to reverse the ruling and to affirm that forcing the centers to provide the free advertising contrary to their core mission is a violation of their constitutionally protected freedoms.
In a separate action, ICU Mobile of Riverside, run by the Scharpen Foundation, had filed a state court action challenging AB775, while the other three cases were filed in federal court. Recently, the Judge in the state case issued a very favorable ruling for the Scharpen Foundation In the ruling, Judge Gloria Trask wrote that “the required notification is compelled speech which on its face violates freedom of speech protected by Article 1, Section 2 of the California Constitution.” According to the judge, “The speech required by the FACT Act is unquestionably compelled. She went on to hold that “…this state-compelled speech is not politically neutral. Judge Trask goes on to hold that: “The statute interferes both with the right of the clinician to speak and with the right of the patient to hear what the clinician would say in absence of State censorship.” She further declares: “The Legislature may not use the wall of a physician’s office as a billboard to advertise the availability of low-cost abortions…”
While NIFLA is hopeful that SCOTUS would grant their petition for review, they are not discouraged at all about this decision. In fact, it indicates a high probability that eventually the case will be accepted by the high court.
In the meantime, the pro-life pregnancy centers throughout the state continue to deliver caring, compassionate, and quality healthcare to their patients. California centers who are affiliated with NIFLA are encouraged by the response of Judge Trask.
And here in Santa Clarita, the staff and Board of Director of the SCV Pregnancy Center are grateful for the conservative voice that rings loud and clear in Sacramento. But we still need your help. Freedom of speech is under direct attack and we need engaged and knowledgeable residents.
However, regardless of what the State Legislature does, we are dedicated to serving families of Santa Clarita by offering quality healthcare and compassionate services. Not only are we holding steadfast in our mission and purpose but we are expanding into a new building Spring of 2018. The facility (currently under construction) includes a new conference room for client groups and programs. The expansion increases the size of our ultrasound room, add a triage area and provide a dedicated lab space. Owning our own facility will provide the opportunity to increase clinic hours and increased services. In addition, purchasing the commercial medical condo will eliminate $60-70,000 of expenses per year for the Santa Clarita non-profit.
For more information on the SCV Pregnancy Center or to receive updates on the AB775 legal progress, please contact us at 661-255-0084. You can follow the new building progress on Facebook or visit our website at SCVPC.org/Foundations-For-Life.