Today's Supreme Court Ruling a Severe Rebuke to California Lawmakers!

Riverside County, CA (June 26, 2018)  Today, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of NIFLA and against the Reproductive FACT Act, the California law that would force faith-based pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion. Back in October 2017 in our case against this law, Scharpen Foundation v. Javier Becerra, a Riverside County Superior Court judge granted an injunction against the State, ruling it infringed upon free speech and therefore was a violation of the California Constitution.

After hearing about today’s concurring Supreme Court ruling, Robert Tyler, General Counsel for Tyler & Bursch’ LLP, commented, “After our victory in state court, and now this victory at the U.S. Supreme Court, our state case should be concluded and the judgment we received in our favor will no longer be subject to appeal by the State Attorney General. The California Legislature, Governor Brown and General Javier Bacerra should recognize this decision as a severe rebuke to their disregard for the Constitution.”

Nada Higuera, the Tyler & Bursch attorney who successfully argued the Scharpen case in Riverside County had this to say about the ruling, "The Supreme Court hit a home run and affirmed the principle that no American should be forced to speak a message that they disagree with. But this is not just a victory for free speech. It is also victory for the countless pregnancy resource centers and the women they serve. It is a victory for life!"

Both Robert Tyler and Nada Higuera will be available for comment and interviews today. Please call or text Desaré Ferraro at 714-348-0808 or email dferraro@tylerbursch.com.

About Tyler & Bursch, LLP and Advocates for Faith &Freedom: Tyler & Bursch’s attorneys have been serving businesses and individuals throughout Southern California for almost 20 years in federal and state trial courts, courts of appeal and arbitration. Tyler & Bursch provides legal and financial support to their non-profit law firm, Advocates for Faith & Freedom in defense of constitutional and religious liberty.

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, “blatantly unconstitutional.” PRCs, she says, should have the same freedom of speech—or, in this case, non-speech—as everyone else.

Yet Higuera had a much deeper connection to the case she was arguing—one that had slammed into her as a teenager, but had since remained mostly out of sight and out of mind.

But now, a growing daughter tucked safely within her, Higuera’s spirit played host to the ever-present question: Should she tell them?

Hidden Abuse

Higuera was raised in northern California, the eighth daughter born within a thirteen-year span to devout Muslim parents who had emigrated from Palestine. While her childhood was fairly “Americanized, and felt very much like a normal American’s,” as Higuera tells Citizen, it also included her mother wearing headscarves, her father praying to Mecca five times a day and attending mosque services. Everyone in her family spoke Arabic.

In 1992, Higuera’s parents took a fellow Middle Eastern immigrant under their wing, a man about her father’s age. He became like a trusted uncle—but quickly zeroed in on the youngest daughter, often getting Higuera alone starting around the age of 6.

“He would offer to help my parents with errands and then take me to work after hours. He would come up with all kinds of reasons,” Higuera says. “If I said no, my parents thought that was rude and questioned why I was not being obedient.”

His behavior soon turned sexual.

“My personality is a peacemaker, and I didn’t want to stir up trouble,” says Higuera, now 30. “I didn’t tell my parents anything. I never had the courage to say, ‘Here’s what’s happening.’ ”

Even if Higuera had spoken up, she wouldn’t have known what to say. Her family was so shuttered about discussing sex that one sister had no idea what would happen on her wedding night. And as a child in elementary school, Higuera knew even less.

The years passed, and the abuse continued, unseen and unchecked. In the meantime, five of Higuera’s sisters entered arranged marriages—four of them before graduating from high school, with one becoming a bride at 14.

Though her siblings would eventually provide Higuera with 23 much-loved nephews and nieces, she saw how each sister with an arranged marriage grew deeply unhappy. And as her “uncle” kept sexually abusing her, Higuera followed suit: silently surviving.

That is, until she was 16, and took a pregnancy test. It was positive.

The girl who didn’t even realize that her abuser’s actions could create a child had no idea how to tell her family. So Higuera wrote a note to her sister, who then informed their parents.

“Anyone who got pregnant out of marriage was unclean,” Higuera explains. “It devastated my parents. [They] said, ‘We’re going to get this taken care of—your sister’s going to take you to get an abortion.’

“And within a few days, that’s what happened.”

There was no discussion at home before or after the procedure. Nor did anyone at the abortion facility discuss fetal development with Higuera or tell her what her options were.

“I remember [them] telling me I might bleed a little,” Higuera says.

The high school sophomore returned home, “kind of checked out” mentally, as Higuera says, to survive. After a stern upbraiding from a brother-in-law, Higuera’s abuser fled the country, unpunished.

Higuera couldn’t see how that was right. She was a good daughter who loved her family, innocent and sincere. Why had this happened?

It wasn’t until more than a decade later, when AB-775 required her to professionally revisit the world of unplanned pregnancy and abortion, that she would truly see how “our God of justice,” as she says, was “patiently healing and redeeming” her all along.

Meeting Christ

In 2005, Higuera bucked the family tradition of arranged marriage and went to college. As a student at Chico State University, she was unsure of her desired career but positive of one thing: She was pro-choice. A woman should have access to abortion, she thought, especially in cases like her own.

Today, she’ll tell you she was “repressing everything” back then with the gusto of a “typical female student at a liberal college.” It was more coping mechanism than true belief, since she received virtually no trauma counseling after her years of abuse.

“God knew I wasn’t ready [to deal with it],” Higuera says. “He’s been so patient through this whole process.”

A major part of that process was hearing the Gospel for the first time at 18 from a high school friend. The message and prayer resonated with Higuera, but as she joined the college scene, she pushed thoughts of Christ away.

“I thought it was crazy that you could be forgiven for all your sins [that would happen] tomorrow,” she says. “That struck me as so unjust.”

Even so, Higuera “knew there was a lot of power in the Gospel still.” The story of the Cross stayed with her, and after hearing it again at a friend’s church when she was 20, the former Muslim became a Christ-follower.

Her parents’ reaction was swift. Higuera was brainwashed, they said; Jesus was just a man and it’s blasphemy to say otherwise. What’s more, they insisted, if she maintained her Christianity, they had no choice but to cut all ties with her.

Higuera was initially devastated. Wasn’t professing faith in Jesus supposed to solve problems? That night, while reading her new Bible, she found 1 Peter 4:14: “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (NIV). And then Matthew 10:34: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (NIV).

Instantly and ironically, reading that brought Higuera complete peace. And to her great shock, two weeks later her mother called and “acted like nothing had happened,” Higuera says. Indeed, her father gladly walked her down the aisle when Higuera married her Jesus-loving husband Grant four years ago, and since then, along with Higuera’s mother, “has been really pleased and surprised with Christians in general.”

Higuera had a rock-solid faith, a degree in criminal justice, a wonderful husband and a warm relationship with her parents, sisters and their children.

But what about the rest of her life? What was she supposed to do with her past abuse and abortion trauma?

Headed to Court

At a friend’s suggestion, a somewhat ambivalent Higuera took the admissions test for law school. To her surprise, she passed, and in 2010 found herself a student at the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific in Sacramento.

“I ended up loving and being good at it,” Higuera says. “I still didn’t know why God would bring me through law school. I thought surely I wasn’t the typical lawyer.”

After passing the bar in 2014, Higuera heard about Robert Tyler, a partner at Tyler & Bursch, LLP in Murrieta, Calif., and the founder of Advocates for Faith & Freedom. She gave him a call, intrigued by the idea of becoming a faith-based attorney. Tyler hired her, not knowing her back story.

When the FACT Act passed in 2015, the pro-life plaintiffs assembled a legal team from the American Center for Law and Justice and Advocates for Faith & Freedom. As Higuera studied the merits of the case, she knew she wanted to take it—pro bono—but not necessarily because of its pro-life implications; instead, the constitutionality questions drew her.

Tyler tells Citizen he wasn’t surprised when Higuera stepped up.

“These types of cases attract some of the best lawyers because of the impact they have on society,” he says. “It requires a significant personal sacrifice of time and money to take [them on] … These cases separate great lawyers from the rest of the pack, and Nada has risen to the challenge.”

Higuera dove in, immersing herself in reading pro-life literature and interviewing the staff and clients of PRCs like the Scharpen Foundation. As she prepared her case, Higuera did not initially see how “God was using these [activities] to help me heal” from her past trauma. Since her conversion, she recognized the sanctity of life; wasn’t that enough?

“It was God slowly giving these little things, just working on my heart, knowing I was repressing [my abuse],” Higuera says. “Even though I knew my client provided post-abortion counseling and I needed it, I would never say, ‘Please help me, please counsel me.’ But working with people in the pro-life community—doing it from a legal perspective—allowed me to absorb everything.”

In early 2017, Higuera became pregnant with her daughter Nyla and continued working. She often felt Nyla move during legal proceedings, filling her with awe—even preborn, her daughter was advocating for life! As the pregnancy progressed, people often remarked on the uniqueness of a pregnant lawyer in court on behalf of preborn children and their parents.

“It fascinated them,” Higuera says. But how much more fascinated would they be, she wondered, if they knew everything?

To Glorify God

In her eighth month of pregnancy, after much prayer, Higuera decided to tell her boss and coworkers what had happened to her as a kid.

“I don’t necessarily want to publish my story all over the world,” she says. “But if it glorifies God, then I do.” And that story certainly gave the Lord all credit; no one she told had heard of an abuse survivor and abortive mother not only learning “the truth about abortion and the evil that it is” but also defending preborn children through California’s notoriously liberal legal system.

When Higuera thanked her boss for the opportunity to work the case—and heal—he returned the gratitude. “I was so thankful to her for sharing her testimony and putting in so many hours to defend life and liberty,” Tyler says. “I immediately told Nada that I was so impressed with how she has overcome so many obstacles to become such a wonderful person of faith.”

Finally speaking her story out loud made it clear that God had been quietly involved all along.

“Here I am, a pregnant woman going through these different stages, yet I can still just walk in [during any trimester] and get an abortion,” Higuera says. “So knowing the impact of what I did, being able to grieve that death and loss of a baby was just so real to me being pregnant. It was all part of the healing and redemption process.”

Indeed. And when Judge Trask ruled in favor of the Scharpen Foundation on Oct. 30—agreeing that pro-life clinics being forced to refer clients to abortion facilities is wrong—Higuera knew it was a true team effort, not only between herself and co-counsel, but also God and Nyla, who was born in September.

“Looking back at all the guilt and shame, and now God put me in courtrooms advocating for pro-life clinics—it’s so far from where I was,” Higuera says. “He did it so gently, so patiently. It was so personal to use this case to help me, to really understand His grace and love for me. It’s just amazing.”

For now, Higuera is busy not only with ensuring laws like the FACT Act stay unwritten and unpassed, but also settling into new motherhood.

Her hopes for Nyla, meanwhile, are fairly standard: To grow up knowing Christ, fulfilled, within a supportive community.

But Higuera does have another small dream for her second child.

“How beautiful would it be if she becomes a lawyer and can say, ‘Even when I was in the womb, I was in the courtroom, fighting for life?’”

Just like her mama.

 

Originally published in the January 2017 issue of Citizen magazine.

 

 

 

 

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.

Planned Parenthood May Finally Face Criminal Charges

Planned Parenthood has long been a foe of pro-life supporters. While it claims to approach each situation without bias and have women’s best interest at heart, the real purpose of this taxpayer-funded, nonprofit organization is to make abortion easy and common. It tells young girls their decision to abort their baby is “sensible” and “acceptable.” In summer 2015, however, shocking videos incriminating Planned Parenthood staff with selling fetal tissue from abortions went viral—increasingly shattering their already fragile credibility.

The scandal started a string of investigations, but under Obama’s helm, little effort was made to determine whether or not the nonprofit, which donates heavily to Democrats, should face criminal charges.

In fact, more effort was made to investigate the Center for Medical Progress, the pro-life organization that exposed the disturbing undercover videos, rather than the actual purveyors of human baby parts. But with a new, Republican administration making changes in Washington, the tide could be turning for Planned Parenthood.

Last December, Senator Chuck Grassley(R) sent a report to Obama's Attorney General Loretta Lynch and then FBI Director James Comey. In the report, Grassley declares that the committee found “substantial evidence” pointing to the fact that Planned Parenthood violated the law that bans the buying or selling of human fetal tissue and he calls for their investigation and possible prosecution.

And this month, after an Orange County, California seller of these aborted baby body parts, DaVinci Biosciences/DV Biologics, settled for millions and closed its doors, we have good reason to believe Planned Parenthood is closer to being named in a lawsuit of its own.

Within the last few weeks, there have been reports of a possible FBI investigation into Planned Parenthood’s actions and practices. When asked if findings by a Senate investigation could lead to the Justice Department bringing charges, Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained that, depending on the substance of the evidence, it “could provide a basis for charges.”

Whether this investigation proves fruitful, we are grateful the current administration is continuing its thorough examination and uncovering of the unethical and possibly illegal practices of Planned Parenthood.

And yet, there are still so many battles to be fought and won in the courts, for our religious liberty.  We are grateful for your prayers of support! And when you think about your year-end charitable giving, please consider a tax-deductible contribution to our important ministry.  Without you, we would not be able to continue to work on pro bono cases that uphold our Christian beliefs, confident in the truth of God’s gospel and the supremacy of His ways.

Seller of Aborted Baby Body Parts Settles for Millions in SoCal

David Daleidin’s 2015 undercover videos showing high-level representatives of Planned Parenthood haggling over the purchase of aborted baby body parts shocked our nation.  Even supporters of Planned Parenthood couldn't help but be appalled.      Due to public outcry, a lengthy congressional investigation was launched in which it was discovered that a company in Yorba Linda, California, DaVinci Biosciences and its sister company, DV Biologics, were purchasing baby body parts from Planned Parenthood. It is a violation of both state and federal law to profit from the sale and distribution of fetal tissue.

It was also discovered that this aborted baby parts supplier was located right next door to a place of worship! This prompted a year-long prayer vigil by Catholics and Evangelicals at the Church of Grace, as pastors and individuals united in prayer over DV Biologics and the surrounding community.

In October 2016, Orange County District Attorney, Tony Rackaukus, filed suit against DaVinci Biosciences and DV Biologics. The company founders and principals, Estefano Isaias Sr., Estefano Isaias Jr., and Andres Isaias, were also named in the suit.

To add to the depravity surrounding this case, further investigation revealed that the Isaias' were given the approval to immigrate to the United States after they donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.

The case was set for trial in February 2018, but given the predicted outcome, was just settled this month.

Da Vinci Biosciences and DV Biologics have agreed to forfeit their profits of over $7 million dollars and are required to cease doing business within 60-120 days. The settlement also requires them to pay $195,000 to the County of Orange and to donate any remaining fetal tissue as well as their research and medical instruments to a medical school. The medical school has not yet been named.

This case is a striking reminder of the awesome power of prayer! And, as we continue our ministry of protecting life and religious liberties in the courts, Advocates for Faith & Freedom is so very grateful for yours!

Pro-Life Lawyer Finds Redemption and Hope

We won again!And I have a riveting story that underlies this significant case that thwarted the abortion industry. I hope you will read through this inspiring newsletter. First, the Riverside Superior Court judge ordered the State Attorney General to CEASE the enforcement of the California’s Reproductive FACT Act in the case we filed for The Scharpen Foundation.

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The Scharpen Foundation operates Go Mobile for Life, a licensed mobile medical pregnancy clinic in California. The transportable clinic parks in public places offering women free ultrasounds, resources, pregnancy counseling and post-abortion counseling.

The Reproductive FACT Act challenges our client’s mission to provide life-affirming options to women facing unplanned pregnancies.  The state law requires nonprofit pregnancy care clinics to advertise for abortions by giving women a county phone number where they can call and get a referral for a free or low-cost abortion.

The judge agreed that this law violates our client’s right to free speech under the California and U.S. Constitutions!

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Let’s now rewind to 2015 when I presented this case to our staff of attorneys. Nada Higuera, a first generation Palestinian-American volunteered to work on this case—the epitome of a David versus Goliath battle.

Raised in Islam, Nada became a Christian and now serves as an attorney in our firm defending religious liberties and promoting Christian causes. However, this case was particularly important to Nada.

Nada had an abortion as a teen. When she was just six or seven years old, Nada was sexually assaulted by a family friend—a man in his fifties. The abuse continued for years, and Nada—too afraid to tell her parents and too young to understand what was happening—remained silent. Her abuser told her to keep quiet, and she remained in fearful silence.

“I was a pacifist and didn’t want to cause problems,” Nada said. “I just never had the courage to say anything. I was very confused.”

At 16 years old, Nada found herself pregnant by her abuser after she had purchased a pregnancy test at the grocery store. She knew she could not keep the pregnancy a secret. Nada told her sister, who relayed the information to her parents. Without a second thought, the family agreed that Nada would get an abortion. Her dad and sister drove her to an abortion facility in Modesto, California.

“I felt like an empty shell,” Nada recalled. “I wasn’t really there. I remember the abortion was government funded. It was so easy and it was done. There was no talk about adoption. There was no sonogram that you saw. It was just this really seamless, easy process.”

After the abortion, Nada said she felt relieved because the abuse was over. She continued with her life, went to college, and then pursued her career. It was not until she came into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in her early twenties that she realized the gravity of what had occurred. Nada said at first, she experienced deep guilt and sorrow, but as her newfound faith grew, so did her understanding of God’s grace and forgiveness.

 “It was only when I became a Christian that I started understanding the impact of what I had done,” Nada said. “I had taken a human life, and it was a baby made in the image of God. I knew once I became a Christian, that I was forgiven for that.” But her emotional pain did not just go away.

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Nada is seeing how God is using our client’s case to help her heal from her abortion, and to bring healing to others. She hopes her story will help women who have faced sexual assault or have had an abortion. “To women who are feeling shame or unforgiveness, I want to be able to help them if I can,” Nada said. “There’s hope and redemption. God is amazing.”

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Nada said it is crucial that the rights of pro-life individuals are protected and that governments are not allowed to strong-arm citizens into violating their conscience. “Life is a gift from God,” Nada said. “Even from the beginning, we need to protect it and nurture it.”

Little did any of us know the impact this case would have on us as a staff, our clients, and especially, Nada. But God knew and orchestrated this entire case—every last detail— for His glory!

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Nada argued our case as she was nearly nine months pregnant! And Nada came off maternity-leave to argue the case at trial before the court. On September 9, 2017, she and her husband welcomed their daughter into the world.

The case will now be appealed by the Attorney General in the state appeals court. Meanwhile, our sister case in federal court is being briefed for the U.S. Supreme Court where we will be filing an amicus brief advising the High Court of our state court victory. It should certainly have a significant impact on the success in that case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

We can’t fight the state without your financial help!  We have a lot of work yet to accomplish and every gift—large or small—helps us in our battle to preserve life, speech and our God-given freedoms. Please support Nada and our work with a financial gift as God may lead you. 

Unconstitutional: Court Orders State Attorney General Not to Enforce California’s Reproductive FACT Act

Yesterday, in Riverside County Superior Court, Judge Gloria Trask granted an injunction against the California State Attorney General and he is now prevented from enforcing the Reproductive FACT Act. Click to see our Press Release. In the clearly ideological vote that completely ignored freedom and liberty, the Democrat-controlled California state legislature’s passing of AB 757, known as the Reproductive FACT Act, infringed on its own citizens’ free speech by compelling speech.

          Our lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Scharpen Foundation challenging the California law that requires pro-life pregnancy centers to provide their patients with contact information for local abortion clinics.  In its decision, the Court found that “the Reproductive FACT Act violates Article I, Section 2 of the California Constitution.”

     Judge Gloria Trask explained, “Here, the State commands clinics to post specific directions for whom to contact to obtain an abortion. It forces the clinic to point the way to the abortion clinic and can leave patients with the belief they were referred to an abortion provider by that clinic…. In Scharpen’s case that would be inaccurate, profoundly inaccurate.” “Compelled speech must be subject to reasonable limitation,” continued Judge Trask. “The statute compels the clinic to speak words with which it profoundly disagrees when the state has numerous alternative methods of publishing its message…. In this case, however virtuous the State’s ends, they do not justify its means.”   “We are thrilled with Judge Trask’s ruling, which is a huge victory for free speech,” said Scott Scharpen, founder and president of The Scharpen Foundation, which operates the Go Mobile For Life pregnancy clinic. He added, “The whole notion of being compelled to share information with our patients about abortion availability, which is contrary to our mission and purpose, is fundamentally wrong. Lives will be saved because of this ruling.”

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

Tyler & Bursch, LLP attorney Robert Tyler lauded, “It is a great day in California because we know that freedom of speech is still a protected constitutional right. Judge Trask is absolutely correct that the State can’t force a pro-life clinic to advertise abortions on behalf of the State and its abortion mills.” He continued, “If the State Attorney General appeals, we will continue to defend our client’s pro-life speech all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Many of us are not aware that the Preamble of the California Constitution states, "We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this Constitution." 

In an irony that only God could have conceived, Nada Higuera, the attorney who argued the case, discovered she was pregnant with her first child when she initially pleaded this pro-life case. She gave birth to her baby girl just a month before her convincing final arguments were heard by the judge.

“As a young female and defender of speech, I am thrilled to know that our work is not in vain, said Higuera. I’ve regrettably had an abortion. And I’ve just recently experienced the incomparable joy of having a baby. I wish I would have had the opportunity to visit a pro-life clinic when I was just 16 years old and contemplating an abortion.

Yesterday’s ruling established that “[C]ompelled speech of a political or cultural nature is not the tool of a free government.”  Essentially, “The legislature may not use the wall of the physician’s office as a billboard to advertise the availability of low cost abortions….”

The ruling provides injunctive relief statewide and prevents the law from being enforced effective immediately.

Along with the American Center for Law & Justice, Tyler & Bursch, LLP also represents Livingwell Medical Clinic in a concurrent case in federal court. We are awaiting a decision in November from the U.S. Supreme Court as to whether the High Court will take the case. Our two-front strategy has given us the ability to win in either federal or state court...or, God willing, both.

      We are grateful to God for the wisdom of the words written in our state constitution! We also thank you for your faithful prayers and your tax-deductible donations which allow our Advocates attorneys to continue their pro bono work defending life and liberty in the courts!

Your Prayers Made All the Difference!

“Cast your burden upon the LORD, and he will sustain youand uphold you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” Psalm 55:22 AMPYour 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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One California Pastor Is Finding His Voice!

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, one of them being abortion.

With his new friend’s ministry in mind, he invited Pastor Scott to speak at his church about The Scharpen Foundation’s mobile pro-life clinic, “Go Mobile for Life.”  They parked the mobile clinic in The Springs church parking lot and invited the congregation to tour the facilities. What an impact it had on all who experienced this life affirming ministry, especially Pastor Bob!

A few weeks later, we received an email from Pastor Bob. He wrote, “I was praying for the time, I kept using the phrase "Find Your Voice." I wrote and preached a sermon with that title the next week.”

We were so inspired by his message that we asked him if we could share it with you. Here is an excerpt: Also, notice Nehemiah’s tone and demeanor.  He is gracious, humble and respectful.  He prays silently the whole time. He’s looking for openness, for God’s answer, God’s movement. He’s driven by care, not by anger.

Notice that he was scared to death! Finding our voice may mean facing some of our biggest fears. It doesn’t mean we gallivant into danger without a care in the world. It means that in the midst of the injustice, in the middle of the opposition, we are able, with God’s gracious strength and boldness to go for the ask. To speak into the situation. To give voice to God’s heart, God’s truth, God’s ways.

Nehemiah found his voice with God, and shortly afterward, found his voice in the public sphere. God placed him there on purpose. He was to voice God’s heart and purpose to a pagan king, and when he went for the ask, the king accepted! Incredible! These matter, a lot!  As we pray, God will begin to give us a voice to speak into areas that need change.  To speak for him. As with Nehemiah, forging this new ground for something bigger than ourselves is difficult. But, this is how God has chosen to get his purpose advanced: through people like you and me, who at one point did not have a voice, and then, did! Nehemiah cared, prayed, went for the ask, and followed through. He went back to Jerusalem, rebuilt the walls, united his people, and worked as God’s change agent. Read Entire Sermon and Listen to Pastor Bob’s Sermon.

As Advocates for Faith & Freedom continues to use our voice to fight for Religious liberties in court cases, such as The Scharpen Foundation free speech case, we encourage you to find your own voice! Whether you speak or sing; write or draw; volunteer or donate – we should all find a way to share the gospel and our biblical values. We can make a difference in our culture!

We thank you for your faithful prayers and your tax-deductible donations!