For Blayne Wittig, California’s so-called “Reproductive FACT Act” was never just about a sign on the wall or handing out a document.
It was about the state forcing her to use her pro-life center’s resources to advertise for abortion. It was about a heavy-handed government compelling her to send a message that conflicted with her deeply held beliefs.
Plus, there was a much more personal reason Blayne objected to the law, which the U.S. Supreme Court said was likely unconstitutional last week in a 5-4 ruling in National Institute for Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra.
Stopping enforcement of a 2015 California state law because it unconstitutionally compels speech, the Supreme Court’s decision is a ringing victory for the free speech rights of all Americans—most specifically pro-life pregnancy centers like those Blayne oversees.
Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas clarified that California’s AB 775 “targets speakers, not speech, and impose an unduly burdensome disclosure requirement that will chill their protected speech.”
If Blayne had been forced by the state of California to post signs or hand out documents pointing the way to an abortion, it would have served as a constant reminder of a time in life where Blayne felt abortion wasn’t just one of many options, but her only way out of an unexpected pregnancy.
As a 19-year-old college student, living away from home for the first time, Blayne thought she’d finally found freedom when she enrolled at San Francisco State University. One day, though, she paid a visit to the school’s student health center thinking she had the flu.
Like so many women before and since, Blayne was shocked to find out she didn’t have the flu; she was pregnant. Facing the situation alone and with a typically thin college budget, Blayne was overwhelmed with fear as she tried desperately to wrap her mind around the news she never pictured herself hearing.
That’s when the nurse at the student health center stepped in and told Blayne she could help. Not only could the nurse recommend a nearby abortion business, but Blayne’s abortion would be free through Medi-Cal, the state’s taxpayer-funded program.
Just after college, Blayne found out she was pregnant a second time. Though she was in a stable relationship, Blayne and her boyfriend didn’t feel ready to become parents, so they went to a local Planned Parenthood, where she ended her second child’s life through abortion.
It was in the aftermath of that second abortion that Blayne realized she never wanted to resort to abortion again. She realized that she could have kept her babies, but somehow, she just hadn’t seen that clearly enough in those moments.
In stark contrast to her first pregnancy as a college student, the third time around, Blayne was surrounded by the love and support of her family, who were with her every step of the way. Rather than hiding in the shadows, she could celebrate the new life she now carried along with those who loved her most.
As a young mother, Blayne continued her education, earning a master’s degree that would launch her into a successful career in the business world. In time, she would move into her current role as executive director for Options for Women in the Bay Area, where she serves women who are facing the same pressures she had as a college student and recent grad.
When Blayne needed help and hope during her first pregnancy, abortion was presented as her only option. What choice would she have made if she’d been given the gift of a listening ear instead of being pointed to an abortion?
That’s why Blayne is so dedicated to the work at her pro-life pregnancy center. Women already know abortion is an option; what they don’t know is it’s not the only option.
Women don’t need one more source of pressure to resort to abortion. And thanks to last week’s Supreme Court decision, Blayne is free from the government forcing her to speak a message that does just that. Better yet, Blayne and her center are free to give women the help they need and the hope they deserve.
Jay Hobbs is deputy director of media communications for Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents the National Institute for Family and Life Advocates.