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Missouri House Takes First Step to Protect Free Speech Rights of Women Helping Centers

by | May 11, 2012

Missouri State Capitol

By Dave Andrusko

It’s only a first step, but an important one. On Tuesday the Missouri House voted in favor of legislation barring local governments from regulating the speech and advertising of centers that offer counsel to

 

women on alternatives to abortion, commonly referred to aspregnancy resource centers or crisis pregnancy centers.

Time is of the essence. The House must have a second vote on HB 1357 and the Senate must pass it before May 18 when the legislative session ends.

The measure is a reaction to attempts around the country—most of which have already been tossed out in courts—to dictate what these alternative to abortion organizations must say to their clients. Federal judges have not looked kindly at what they have ruled are abridgements of the First Amendment .

   Harassment laws enacted in New York City and Baltimore have already been overturned by federal judges on First Amendment grounds. The latest onslaught–in San Francisco–is being challenged in court.

    It is in response to these attempts to stifle free speech that committees in both the Missouri House and Senate have brought up legislation to restrict local governments from passing regulations that are violations of the CPCs’ First Amendment.

   Supporters point to language in the court decision striking down the Baltimore ordinance:

   “[I]t is for the provider – not the Government – to decide when and how to discuss abortion and birth-control methods.  The Government cannot, consistent with the First Amendment, require a ‘pro-life’ pregnancy-related service center to post a sign as would be required by the Ordinance.”

   The attacks on these women helping centers, which are part of a coordinated national attack by NARAL, take their cues from  “a congressional study” which in fact was a 2006 tract produced for pro-abortion Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman, the ranking minority member at the time, by the minority staffers on the House Committee on Government Reform. A key portion of the Waxman “investigative report” was supposedly that CPCs were distributing “medically inaccurate information.”

   What that means is that pro-lifers are distributing information pro-abortionists don’t agree with. Pro-abortionists target the assertion that there is a link between having an induced abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer; and that there can be mental health consequences to having an abortion.

  The attempt to protect these alternatives to abortion centers from harassment is taking place at the same time pro-life legislators are attempting to extend tax credits to donors, which is due to expire at the end of the year.

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