Supreme Court rejects anti-abortion pregnancy counseling center’s appeal of SF law banning false advertising

Two days after issuing a decision in favor of crisis pregnancy centers, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a San Francisco center’s
appeal in a different case.

In the most recent action, the high court without comment declined to review an appeal in which a center known as First Resort challenged a San Francisco law prohibiting false advertising by such centers.

The denial of the appeal means the final ruling in the case is a decision last year by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upholding the city law.

The law, enacted in 2011, bans false and misleading advertising by crisis pregnancy centers, which are termed “limited service pregnancy centers” in the law. They are defined as centers that provide pregnancy-related services but do not offer abortions or emergency contraception or referrals for such services.

The measure was aimed at centers that advertise they can help women with unintended pregnancies decide what to do next, but do not disclose that they are anti-abortion and don’t provide referrals for abortions.

First Resort, which now operates under the name of Support Circle, claimed in a civil rights lawsuit that the San Francisco law violated its constitutional First Amendment right of free speech.

But the 9th Circuit last year said the law did not violate that right because it regulates only commercial speech and not protected speech about ideas. In 1980, the Supreme Court ruled the First Amendment does not protect false or misleading commercial speech.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, whose office defended the law, said, “This case was about the truth. These groups are entitled to be advocates, but they’re not entitled to break the law.

“False and misleading advertising by these clinics is a deceitful practice that preys on women when they least suspect it,” Herrera said.

In its earlier action this week, the Supreme Court on Tuesday by a 5-4 vote struck down a California law requiring crisis pregnancy centers to post notices informing patients that the state has free and low-cost programs that offer comprehensive family planning services, including contraception, prenatal care and abortion.

One difference between the state law and the San Francisco law is that the now-overturned state law required the posting of a statement, while the city ordinance prohibits false statements.

The San Francisco law allows the city attorney to enforce the measure by seeking a court injunction and fines of $50 to $500 for each violation.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

Bay City News
Share
Published by
Bay City News

Recent Posts

Flashy stunts, sketchy story in Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Volta’

At the outset of “Volta,” the Cirque du Soleil show now under the big top in San Francisco, a lively…

3 hours ago

Family members launch GoFundMe for Chinatown woman killed in fatal collision

Family members of a woman killed while crossing the street in San Francisco’s Chinatown earlier this month have launched a…

4 hours ago

San Francisco Dons men’s basketball postpones clash with Arizona State

Friday's University of San Francisco men's basketball game against Arizona State, slated for a 6:00 p.m. tip, has been postponed due…

4 hours ago

SF Preps: San Francisco Section postpones semifinal football games to Saturday due to air quality

The San Francisco Section has officially postponed its two semifinal football games yet again. After having already moved the games…

7 hours ago

Golden State Warriors drop fourth loss of the year as Draymond Green returns

By C.J. Peterson Special to S.F. Examiner Pushing the ball down court on a fast break opportunity in the first…

15 hours ago

The number of missing people in Butte County fire jumps dramatically to 631

The death toll from the devastating Camp fire in Northern California jumped to 63 on Thursday as search crews recovered…

17 hours ago