National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra

Compassion & Choices actively files amicus briefs in the United States Supreme Court to protect your rights at the end of life. In October 2015, California passed the Reproductive FACT Act, which requires pregnancy and family planning centers to post notices regarding the state’s free or low cost public abortion and contraception services. The law was passed to address concerns that anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers were deceptively representing themselves as full-service reproductive health clinics and then providing individuals with inaccurate and incomplete information about their reproductive-health options.

The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (“NIFLA”) believed this Act to violate free speech laws and also believed that it placed a significant burden on anti-abortion pregnancy centers because the required notices had to be in large fonts and in multiple languages. NIFLA filed a Complaint, dismissed by the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. NIFLA then appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued its Opinion upholding the Act on October 14, 2016. On March 20, 2017, NIFLA filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari, escalating the matter to the United States Supreme Court.

On the surface, this matter appears to be only related to reproductive health. However, Compassion & Choices believed that ruling in favor of NIFLA could have “profound implications for the enforceability of end-of-life disclosure rules. Compassion & Choices believes strongly that medical transparency and informed consent are necessary components of patient-directed care, and therefore filed their Brief of Amicus Curiae on February 23, 2018, in support of Respondents and in favor of upholding the Act.

The Supreme Court heard arguments on March 20, 2018, and issued its Opinion on June 26, 2018. A divided Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of NIFLA, holding that the required disclosures violated Free Speech. While this outcome is not what we hoped for, Compassion & Choices remains dedicated to ensuring individuals receive the information they need to make the end-of-life decisions best for them.

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