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Published On: Sat, Jan 19th, 2019

California discriminated against Pregnancy Resource Centers: Office for Civil Rights

The State of California violated the federal conscience protection laws known as the Weldon and Coats-Snowe Amendments, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced this week.

Public domain image/National Atlas of the United States

California adopted the Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act (FACT Act) on October 9, 2015, which required pregnancy resource centers that met the FACT Act’s definition of “licensed covered facilities” to post notices stating that California provides free or low-cost family planning services and abortion.

The FACT Act also required pregnancy resource centers that constituted “unlicensed covered facilities” under the Act to post notices in advertisements and communications. A violation of the FACT Act threatened civil fines of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

The Weldon and Coats-Snowe Amendments prohibit state and local governments that receive certain federal funds from subjecting health care entities to discrimination on the basis that the health care entity does not perform or refer for abortions.

This is the first time since the launch of the new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division a year ago that OCR has found a violation under these laws. This matter arose from complaints filed by Sacramento Life Center, LivingWell Medical Clinic, Pregnancy Center of the North Coast, and Confidence Pregnancy Center alleging that California subjected them to potential fines and discrimination for refusing to post notices referring for abortion.

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