Washington: The US Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday in favour of anti-abortionists in a dispute over a California statute that was seen as a possible precedent for giving states the power to legislate on the right to abortion, permitted in the country since 1973.
The court thus established its position against the law of the state, a bastion of progressives in the US, on grounds that it “likely violates the First Amendment” of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and religion, Efe reported.
Under attack was the constitutionality of a 2015 California ruling that affects the so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” that seek to stop women from having abortions.
The California law, similar to others of Hawaii and Illinois, was passed to combat the misleading information spread by some of those anti-abortion centers and make it easier for poorer women to get professional advice on a state’s family planning services.
Specifically, the law obliges anti-abortion centers to display two notices: one to inform women about the free and low-cost services, including abortion, sponsored by the state of California, and the other to reveal whether it has or doesn’t have a medical license.
Thanks to its conservative majority, the high court cast five votes in favour and four against a preliminary suspension of the California law on grounds that it “most likely” violates freedom of speech.
In recent years, the number of “crisis pregnancy centers” has gone through the roof, and there are now some 2,700 in the US nationwide, three times more than the number of registered abortion clinics in the country, according to figures provided by the ‘Stop The Lies’ group, whose members protested on Tuesday outside the Supreme Court.
The case has captured the attention of Christian right groups and also of organizations that defend women’s rights to choose whether to continue their own pregnancies.
In 1973, the Supreme Court assured women of the right to abortion, though technically it did not legalize it because it limited its ruling to declaring unconstitutional the interference of states in the matter.