NRL News

Crisis Pregnancy Center Expected to Challenge New NY City Regulation Impeding Work of Women-Helping Centers

by | Mar 21, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-abortion New York Michael Bloomberg signing Bill 371.

It is most encouraging when our faithful readers write with their thoughts on a particular story, and especially when we talk about the NARAL-driven offensive against Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). Last week we got lots of response to a partial CPC victory.

Federal Judge Deborah K. Chasanow invalidated a portion of a Montgomery County, Maryland, law (modeled after the city of Baltimore law which had been overturned in January) that required CPCs to post signs that strongly suggest pregnant women should go elsewhere for care. Judge Chasanow did uphold part of the law that requires CPCs to have signage (in English and Spanish) that state “the Center does not have a licensed medical professional on staff”– at least until a trial on the law has concluded.

The suit was brought by Centro Tepeyac Women’s Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. It is one of four of what are called “limited-service pregnancy centers” affected by the law. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) sued on behalf of the Center on First Amendment freedom of speech grounds.

“We will show that the county has no facts to justify the idea that any signs are needed except the ideological complaints of abortion activists,” Matt Bowman, an ADF attorney, told the Gazette newspaper. “There are no facts, no examples of a pregnancy center doing anything but offering real help to women.”

Last Wednesday the city of New York took its place in the pro-abortion queue with Bill 371. CPCs are again forced to specifically state in writing the services they do not provide (e.g., abortion) at the same time no comparable requirement is made of New York City’s abortion clinics. It adds an additional onerous provision; this blatant abridgement of free speech rights is extended to advertising as well.

Pro-abortion Mayor Michael Bloomberg, insisting he is not pro-abortion, signed the bill into law last Wednesday. Read the Wall Street Journal’s account and it’s clear Bloomberg knows the law is on shaky legal footing.

“As for the legality of the new law, Bloomberg did not attempt to defend it from charges that it is unconstitutional,” wrote the Journal’s Michael Howard Saul. “’You can challenge it in court,’ he told opponents. ‘If it’s constitutional or not, I just don’t know.’”

“We have been maligned by an activist – [City Council member] Jessica Lapin – who spends her spare time in front of abortion clinics escorting women into abortion clinics,” said Expectant Mother Care  (EMC) founder Christopher Slattery. “The department of health has never sanctioned us, never given us a visit, never given us a fine, never given us a warning.”

In a statement, Slattery added, “For the past 26 years, EMC Frontline has provided real choice for women facing an unplanned pregnancy. We have provided free sonograms, prenatal care, transitional housing, monetary assistance, and even job training in some cases. NYC is attempting to say our strategic alliances with 10 medical clinics and doctor’s office is inherently deceptive despite state law which allows these very types of alliances and off-site sonograms programs. We pledge to fight this bill with all means necessary to protect the rights of women and pre-born babies.”

EMC is being represented by the American Center for Law & Justice which was expected to file a suit in federal court today.

The City of Baltimore has appealed the January 28 ruling of U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis that struck down a City Council ordinance requiring “limited-service pregnancy centers” to post a sign in their waiting rooms notifying clients that the center “does not provide or make referral for abortion or birth-control services.”

“Whether a provider of pregnancy-related services is ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice,’ it is for the provider — not the government — to decide when and how to discuss abortion and birth-control methods,” wrote Garbis (see “Federal Judge Cites Free Speech in Invalidating Baltimore Pregnancy Center Ordinance,”

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