Washington, D.C. – Today, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California law (the Reproductive FACT Act) that protects women from the dangerous and misleading practices of fake women’s health centers.
In an opinion written by Justice Thomas, five Members of the Court ruled that both the disclosures for licensed and unlicensed centers likely violate their First Amendment rights. Notably, the five-Justice majority did so regardless of whether these fake women’s clinics lie to and deceive women. In a strongly-worded dissent, Justice Breyer (joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan) criticized the majority for overlooking the strong women's health considerations behind the FACT Act, and explained that both the modest and factual nature of the required disclosures and the Court’s prior precedents should have rendered the FACT Act constitutional.
Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
Let’s be clear — fake women’s health centers are deceptive and harmful to women, full stop. Nothing in this decision suggests otherwise. Fake women’s health centers are lying to women, withholding medical information, and creating barriers to health care. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Rest assured, we will continue fighting for every person’s right to access high-quality care and accurate information, despite this disappointing decision. This decision, one in a series of 5-4 decisions, underscores the need for lawmakers to confirm fair-minded justices to the federal bench.
Statement from Maggy Krell, Chief Legal Counsel for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California:
Patients deserve reliable information about their options and to be treated with dignity and respect. California passed the Reproductive FACT Act to ensure that all clinics provide a simple disclosure about their license status and the availability of free or low-cost reproductive services. As California’s largest provider of reproductive healthcare, Planned Parenthood will continue to ensure access to the full range of reproductive health care options, no matter what. As for the fake clinics, no business has the right to falsely advertise services or lie to consumers. We are confident that local law enforcement and the Attorney General will continue to vigorously protect the rights of patients from deceptive practices and prosecute illegal conduct to the fullest extent of the law.
Fake women’s health centers have a long and well-documented history of using deceptive practices. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor observed during oral arguments, fake women’s health centers use misleading websites and advertisements to make women believe that they provide information about their full range of options. In reality, these websites and ads hide their true ideology and motivations. Women seeking health care or counseling during pregnancy require and deserve accurate information. Unfortunately, these centers frequently tell women false information to dissuade them from having an abortion, claiming that abortions pose health risks or lying about how far along they are in pregnancy.
This diverts people from actual health centers that could provide the services or information they want and need. This deception is particularly harmful for communities that already face systemic barriers to health care, including people of color, people with low incomes, and young people. Making one trip to a fake women's health center and then to another that can actually meet their needs delays care – or can prevent people from getting care at all.
More specifically, fake women’s health centers exploit the limited access to health care and the language barriers that some Latinas face by setting up shop in their communities under the guise of offering medical services and providing bilingual volunteers.
These deceptive practices can also exacerbate distrust of health care professionals, especially among Black communities and other groups that have faced historical mistreatment from the medical community. This stops people from getting the care they need, leading to worse health outcomes.
Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (PPAC) is the state public policy office representing California’s seven separately incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates. Through advocacy and electoral action, PPAC promotes sound public policy in areas of reproductive and preventive health care, family planning and comprehensive sexual health education.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.