Hawaii has taken awful to a whole new level. The state senate passed SB 501, which requires crisis pregnancy centers to inform and refer women to abortionists. The measure passed 22-3. This bill was a copycat of California’s terrible so-called “FACT Act,” which is winding its way toward the Supreme Court.
But Hawaii tweaked California’s law to make it even worse. Thomas Glessner, president of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) and a Supreme Court-approved bar attorney, said this in an email to The Resurgent:
The one major difference is that the Hawaii law allows for a private cause of action by any citizen, where the CA law requires state action to enforce it. Thus, Planned Parenthood or any pro-abortion group will have the right to sue pro-life pregnancy centers if they are not in compliance. I guarantee this will happen.
The Hawaii effort to suppress free speech is especially concerning because one of the state’s pro-life centers is housed in a church — which means the church itself would be forced to refer for abortions. This is an egregious violation of religious freedom.
So in Hawaii, Planned Parenthood, which operates an abortuary in Honolulu, would be able to sue a church to force them to refer women in need of counseling and mercy to have their babies killed. I thought it was bad when they put a baker out of business, but this is positively gruesome.
Churches in “sanctuary cities” are famously defying federal law by shielding illegal aliens from being deported. I asked Glessner if the fact that referring women to abortionists violates the religious rights of the church create a safe haven for churches to keep abortion out of their ministry?
Unfortunately, the answer was no. Even churches in Hawaii that operate crisis pregnancy centers are not immune. “A church, under this law, is not a “safe haven” unless a court says the law is not enforceable against a church,” Glessner said.
Adding insult to injury, an even worse trouncing of transparency and First Amendment rights, pro-life pregnancy centers had their written testimony before the senate’s Ways and Means Committee withheld from the record. It was raw censorship.
Some good news, however, is that California’s law is being challenged, and that challenge is headed to the Supreme Court after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (predictably) upheld it. If SCOTUS strikes down California’s “FACT Act,” that decision would likely also invalidate similar measures in Hawaii (should it become law, and Illinois).
With the Supreme Court in a 4-4 deadlock and Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation in process, I asked Glessner if NIFLA’s decision to pursue a SCOTUS appeal would remain unchanged. “Yes, of course,” he said. “Unless this law is struck down by SCOTUS it will be used to harass and close down life-affirming pro-life centers unless they become abortion referral agencies. We must not allow that to happen.”