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Abortion

Advocates’ Pro Bono Attorney finds Hope and Redemption in Pro-Life Case

Twenty-nine-year-old Nada Higuera stood in the courtroom last April, her growing belly an accessory to her case briefs and plea binders.

As an attorney with Advocates for Faith & Freedom—a California-based non-profit law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty—Higuera was once again in Riverside County Superior Court Justice Gloria Trask’s courtroom to challenge the Reproductive FACT Act, or AB-775 (see “Free Speech vs. Forced Speech,” page 12). The statute, hailed by NARAL
Pro-Choice America as “historic,” and “set[ting] a precedent for the nation,” forces pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) statewide to advertise taxpayer-funded abortion and birth-control programs in their waiting rooms, signage and communications.

Signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October 2015, the FACT Act was immediately decried by the pro-life community. Every Golden State PRC would have no choice if AB-775 became law but to tell clients not only that free or low-cost abortions might be available, but exactly where and how to obtain them. In other words: They would be forced to violate their own missions and moral convictions while providing free advertising for the opposition.

Higuera took the case because it was, in her words, Read More

Your Prayers Were Heard…All the Way to the U.S. Supreme Court!

There’s so much good to report!

At Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court hearing about free speech, life, and religious liberty, the question was whether a law passed in California could force pro-life clinics and crisis pregnancy centers to advertise for the state’s free abortion program… in up to 13 languages, no less!

Although a lawsuit to stop the statute was struck down by the Ninth Circuit, you may recall back in October 2017, Tyler & Bursch’s pro bono attorneys, with funding from Advocates for Faith & Freedom, prevailed against this law on Free Speech grounds in Riverside County Superior Court in Scharpen Foundation v. Kamala Harris.

Still, California’s Attorney General persisted on defending this discriminatory law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where non-profit legal defense law firms from across the country took the lead.  Advocates for Faith & Freedom’s research and amicus brief played a significant role in its opposition and was mentioned by three Justices at Tuesday’s hearing.

According to the Daily Signal, Justice Anthony Kennedy asked whether an unlicensed center ran a billboard that read “Choose Life,” would it have to include the disclosure in the same font and in multiple languages? Wouldn’t that be an undue burden?”

A Courthouse News Service article quoted both Justice Alito and Justice Gorsuch.  “If you have a law that’s neutral on its face, but… when you apply all the exemptions, what you’re left with is a very strange pattern, and, gee, it turns out that just about the only clinics that are covered by this [law] are pro-life clinics,” Alito said. “Do you think it’s possible to infer intentional discrimination in that situation?”

While Justice Neil Gorsuch commented that the California law required pregnancy centers to “do the state’s job” at a significant cost to what Advocates for Faith & Freedom’sresearch set out to prove, are mostly nonprofit, pro-life facilities. “Well, but if you’re trying to educate a class of persons about their rights, it’s pretty unusual to force a private speaker to do that for you under the First Amendment,” Gorsuch said.

Commenting right after leaving the Supreme Court hearing with our client, Scott Scharpen, Tyler & Bursch attorney, Robert Tyler was optimistic, saying, “Based on the arguments, it certainly appears that victory is awaiting!”

Unlike Planned Parenthood, non-profit crisis pregnancy centers exist to support women who face difficult or unplanned pregnancies and receive no money or support from the government.  It was apparent the Justices recognized the state’s majority pro-abortion lawmakers targeted these groups.

It was only through your prayers and financial support that Advocates was able to contribute the research and provide the pro bono legal services that we feel certain made a big difference in this case!

Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw His
unfailing love from me. ~ Psalm 66:20 
(NLT)

As Long As They Continue Their Attack, Advocates Will Continue To Fight!

Nationally, pro-life and religious liberty protections are strengthening.  Yet, with bills like AB569 that ban Christian employers from requiring their employees to be pro-life in practice (as well as adhere to other biblical values), and laws like AB775 that required pro-life birth clinics to advertise for abortion services, California is ground zero for promoting anti-Christian policies through legislation.

Struggling against their own antithetical rhetoric, they voted to remove the requirement to provide one’s biological gender on birth certificates and drivers licenses while, at the same time, declaring anyone who does not believe in their version of global warming a “science denier.”

California’s liberal legislators have become not only an arm, but a hand and a mouth for left-wing special interest groups.
That’s why Advocates for Faith & Freedom is working hard to counter their anti-constitutional, anti-Christian alliances and policies. Below are three important cases we have been fighting on behalf of religious liberty.

Free speech
Advocates attorneys are working side-by-side with other legal organizations by sharing our research from our success on the Scharpen case, submitting an Amicus brief, and more, for the NIFLA v. Becerra case, which will be argued before the High Court on March 20, 2018.

Religious land use
On March 22, 2018, Advocates for Faith & Freedom will submit the opening brief on appeal in the Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship religious land use (RLUIPA) case.

Religious expression
Asked to represent Chino Valley Unified School District in their appeal involving opening school board meetings with an invocation prayer, Advocates for Faith & Freedom gave oral arguments in November 2017 and we’re awaiting the judge’s decision.

As you can see, these cases can sometimes take years to defend and the court fees are costly. Partnering with us in prayer, along with your financial support is important to our success in every case!

“The righteous shall flourish… in courts of our God.” Psalm 92:12-13 NIV

              The good news is that we know God is in charge, so as long as anti-Christian organizations and lawmakers in California continue their attack on religious liberties, Advocates for Faith & Freedom will continue to defend the constitutional rights of Christians.

Your Prayers Made All the Difference!

in Abortion, Advocates in Action, Blog, Cases 1 Comment
“Cast your burden upon the LORD, and he will sustain you
and uphold you;
he will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” Psalm 55:22 AMP
Your Prayers Made All The Difference!

On Wednesday, October 18, Advocates for Faith & Freedom attorneys, Bob Tyler and Nada Higuera, gave their final arguments on the Scharpen Foundation case, challenging the California law that requires pro-life clinics to advertise for abortion clinics.Your prayers were felt as attorney Higuera, who just gave birth to a healthy daughter last month, presented a well-researched and convincing case that we are optimistic resonated with the judge.

Judge Gloria Trask assured us she will issue her ruling by November 21 and we will let you know as soon as we hear. This will be Judge Trask’s last case, as following a 40-year career, she will be retiring.

We were grateful for the many pro-life supporters who filled the courtroom seats in theRiverside County Superior Court, including such well-behaved children, they even received a compliment from the judge!

And thank you to our faithful supporters at home! From the final preparations to the start of the hearing, to the closing arguments, your prayers made all the difference!

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Your tax-deductible donations are what allows us to continue to fight these important cases!

One California Pastor Is Finding His Voice!

in Abortion, Advocates in Action, Blog 1 Comment

Not until the Church United Awakening tour in Washington DC, did two neighboring pastors – Bob Branch of The Springs Community Church in Temecula and Scott Scharpen of The Scharpen Foundation in Wildomar – even know each other existed. Then, by God’s providence, they were selected to be roommates and a lasting and meaningful friendship began.

Inspired by the events of the trip, Pastor Bob was determined to get out of his comfort zone and speak up about the “uncomfortable” topics in our culture, Read More

We Got Another Big Victory for Life & Free Speech!

in Abortion, Advocates in Action, Blog, Cases, Free Speech 0 Comments

You may recall we are representing the Scharpen Foundation in challenging AB775 the Reproductive FACT Act where we filed a lawsuit in both federal and state courts. The California statute requires pro-life pregnancy centers that are Christian-based in just about all cases, to provide women the contact information for where they can get free and low- cost abortions.

After arguing for three hours in the Superior Court in Riverside County on April 6, 2017, the California State Attorney General’s motion to dismiss our case was just denied this last week!

According to the judge, this law “forces the clinic to point the way to the abortion clinic.”

In her ruling, Judge Gloria Trask wrote that “the required notification is compelled speech which on its face violates freedom of speech protected by Article 1, Section 2 of the California Constitution.”

With funding raised by Advocates for Faith & Freedom, Tyler & Bursch’s lawyers strategically filed the lawsuit in state court because the California State Constitution is supposed to provide greater free speech protection than the First Amendment.

Ms. Nada Higuera, our staff attorney who argued the case, said that “Judge Trask explains that because free speech is involved under the State Constitution, the Court must strictly scrutinize whether the legislation is lawful. After scrutinizing the law, the judge agreed with our analysis that the law is an unconstitutional violation of free speech.”

Freedom of expression on public issues should be protected at the highest level.  Therefore, this law should be analyzed using strict scrutiny. The ruling warned that the state’s “ability to impress free citizens into State service in this political dispute cannot be absolute; it must be limited.”

In her ruling, the judge explained that this state-compelled speech “is not merely the transmittal of neutral information.” She agreed with our attorneys that this is not just calorie counting or a health hazard warning on smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol. This issue – which is “contentious and raises issues that are religious, cultural, political and legal” – is about the more than four decades-long dispute over abortion.

          The Reproductive FACT Act compels the clinic to “speak words with which it profoundly disagrees” and “places too heavy a burden upon the liberty of free thought.”         

Given the language in the ruling, Tyler & Bursch’s General Counsel Robert Tyler is confident that “while this ruling is not the final judgment, this interim ruling foreshadows what will be the judge’s final decision. She makes her opinion known that the law is unconstitutional.”

   Our next hearing is set for July 21, 2017, where the court will give direction on how our case should proceed – whether the case will actually have a trial or whether it should be simply decided by briefing.

Concurrently, we also represent Livingwell Medical Clinic in federal court. This statute was previously upheld in that case as not violating the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution before a three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit. That case is pending a determination from the U.S. Supreme Court as to whether the High Court will take up our case. Our two-front strategy gives us the ability to win in either federal or state court.

Although it appears that victory is at hand in state court, we would not be able to do any of this without the generous financial support from friends like you. Won’t you please consider donating just $25, $100, $200 or more so we can continue fighting for religious liberties in the courts?

While Advocates for Faith & Freedom depends on our supporters for the funds to fight these important cases, we first and foremost thank you for your continued prayers.

Thank you for your faithful prayers and your donations