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California pro-life group files suit after governor signs censorship zone bill

ADF attorneys represent Right to Life of Central California

Wednesday, Oct 13, 2021

FRESNO, Calif. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Right to Life of Central California filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday challenging the state of California’s attempt to unconstitutionally restrict speech based on viewpoint by creating 100-foot censorship zones outside of any facility that provides any type of vaccine.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 742 into law Friday, immediately banning certain free-speech activities when a speaker is within 30 feet of another person and that other person is “in a public way or on a sidewalk area” and “within 100 feet of the entrance or exit of a vaccination site and is seeking to enter or exit a vaccination site.” This law restricts Right to Life’s ability to peaceably offer charitable services to women in need on the public sidewalk and street outside its own building—and even its own parking lot—because Right to Life is located next to a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic that administers the HPV vaccine.

“Women facing unplanned pregnancies deserve to have full support and resources available to them when they choose life for their unborn children; yet the state of California is working hard to silence the voices of those advocating on their behalf,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle. “This new speech ban unlawfully discriminates against the peaceful advocacy of Right to Life, yet other types of speech, such as ‘lawful picketing arising out of a labor dispute,’ are permissible. We are asking the court to strike down this unconstitutional law that violates staff and volunteers’ free speech rights and allow Right to Life to continue its critical role of serving vulnerable women and children in central California.”

Right to Life’s primary means of outreach to women considering abortion is through its Outreach Center, which is located next to Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s main Fresno abortion clinic. Right to Life shares free resources, provides support services, and offers informational leaflets while standing on the public sidewalks in front of its Outreach Center and between the Outreach Center and Planned Parenthood’s property. The Outreach Center’s parking lot is adjacent to Planned Parenthood’s parking lot, and the two organizations share a sidewalk. Right to Life’s staff and volunteers speak kindly and peacefully with others at a normal conversational distance to share their charitable support services.

“Our compassionate and competent staff and volunteers shine a bright light in this community through their loving care and support for women who are facing an incredibly difficult time in their lives,” said Right to Life of Central California Executive Director John Gerardi. “Through this new state law, the government is silencing our voice from the public square. We will continue advocating for California’s most vulnerable persons—the unborn—and caring for and supporting their mothers.”

Violation of SB 742 is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, up to six months imprisonment in county jail, or both. ADF attorneys filed Right to Life of Central California v. Bonta in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

  • Pronunciation guide: Harle (HAR’-lee)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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