California pro-lifers have won a preliminary victory in federal district court against a law that would shutter free speech around sites that offer vaccinations, including Planned Parenthood clinics.
California’s SB 742 was billed as a law to protect COVID-19 vaccination sites from protesters. But lawyers for Alliance Defending Freedom argued on behalf of Right to Life of Central California that SB 742 would have the double effect of keeping pro-life activists from praying or speaking near health clinics. The law applies to any vaccine, and Planned Parenthood offers the vaccine to combat the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV).
Judge Dale Drozd of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California wrote that the arguments of the plaintiff had “the likelihood of success on the merits of its First Amendment freedom of speech claim.”
He also agreed that damage to the pro-life message was “particularly acute,” since “SB 742 came into effect in the middle of Right to Life’s participation in the biannual 40 Days for Life campaign” … and participants “will never get back the opportunity to reach each woman who enters Planned Parenthood Fulton during this time without hearing Right to Life’s message.”
California Family Policy Council wrote: “The Right to Life group that filed this lawsuit speaks to women who are entering Planned Parenthood facilities and offers them ‘life-affirming’ help and does not offer any information regarding vaccines. However, under this new law, such actions including sidewalk prayer, would subject these activists to the potential for a fine up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail.”
“Free speech won the day not just for our client, Right to Life, but for every other speaker in California,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle in a statement. “We applaud the court’s decision to protect the First Amendment rights of every Californian, regardless of their viewpoint, and halt enforcement of this unconstitutional state law.”
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