Sanctity of Life

Our Case Defending Pregnancy Centers Is Personal to This Attorney

When Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Elissa Graves was in law school, she volunteered her time to stand outside a local abortion clinic in Austin, Texas. She talked and prayed with the men and women going inside, telling them about their other options.

On the side of this particular abortion clinic hung the sign: “Good Women Have Abortions.”

That sign signified the sentiment she was fighting against – that abortion is a good and desirable solution to an unplanned pregnancy. But through talking to the women that entered the abortion clinic, she realized there was another way to interpret the sign, though not in the way the abortion clinic meant it. Instead, she realized that well-meaning women have been deceived into thinking that abortion is merciful, an easy fix to a life-altering “problem,” and even desirable.

It was this, and watching her strong, single mother sacrifice to raise her children, that inspired Elissa to practice law in such a way to defend life and help women. Now, she is on the legal team at ADF doing just that – defending medically-licensed, pro-life pregnancy centers in California that are being forced to promote and refer for abortion.

These pregnancy centers want to empower women with the information and services they need in the face of an unplanned pregnancy, and to offer choices besides an abortion – which only kills the baby and threatens the mother with physical, mental, and emotional harm.

But laws popping up across the nation are making it hard for pro-life pregnancy centers to do that. That’s why ADF has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear this case out of California. And ADF is challenging similar laws in Illinois and Hawaii.

The Supreme Court should uphold the rights of these pregnancy centers to speak messages that are consistent with their beliefs and their right not to speak messages that conflict with those beliefs. To be forced into perpetuating the deception that women must get an abortion in the face of an unplanned pregnancy is unthinkable. It directly contradicts the mission of these centers. 

Forcing these pregnancy centers to advocate for abortion on behalf of the state is really hurting women’s choices, rather than providing them with more choices. This law would help to continue the false narrative that the only option in the face of an unplanned pregnancy is an abortion.

Imagine if, instead of talking with women entering the abortion clinic and letting them know of all of their options, Elissa was forced to stand outside of the clinics and proclaim the “benefits” of abortion. That would violate her beliefs, defeat the very purpose she was there, and do a disservice to the women entering the clinic.

Elissa’s efforts might look a little different now, defending these centers in the courtroom. But it’s the same desire to help women and their unborn children that drives her. After all, these pregnancy centers want to help women by providing real choices, support, and hope. Elissa and the other ADF attorneys on the case are ensuring they have the freedom to do that.


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Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

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