Women who visit crisis pregnancy clinics want options. But they usually don't want to talk about abortion or the morning-after pill—and Heartbeat International intends to keep it that way.
That's why the pro-life group, which represents more than 1,300 pregnancy help centers, is urging the United States Supreme Court to overturn a federal pledge against prostitution. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the Christian Legal Society are doing the same.
Their position may seem counter-intuitive, since all three organizations oppose prostitution. But the case boils down to whether or not the government can require groups to adopt its views before it gives them funds.
At issue: a Bush-era program to fight HIV/AIDS that requires grant winners to "explicitly [oppose] prostitution and sex trafficking."
Evangelical interest in the case is largely unrelated to prostitution per se, said Stanley Carlson-Thies, president of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance. "A government policy that can require private groups to commit to its ideological orthodoxy will increasingly margin- alize faith-based services."
Some fear that the antiprostitution policy could inspire the government to attach loyalty oaths to other federal benefits. It could require an organization like Heartbeat to tell clients about abortion, or a religious nonprofit to affirm the government's views on gay marriage or contraception, to retain tax-exempt status. Many believe such oaths violate the First Amendment and its promise of freedom of speech.
Walter Weber, senior litigation counsel with the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), counters that the right to freedom of association outweighs the right ...1