Imagine that a sporting goods store owner who profits from sales of inhumane bear traps convinces the state legislature to pass a law forcing all anti-bear trap sporting goods stores to post a condemnatory legal notice on their entry doors.
Abortion industry lobbyists had in mind a similar scenario when they recently introduced a bill (HB 452 ) that sought to give Planned Parenthood and other abortionists a virtual monopoly on pregnant patients seeking help. The bill required pro-life pregnancy centers to prominently display a notice stating "that the facility is not a health care facility, that it does not perform or refer women for abortions, that it does not provide or refer women for contraception, and that the facility is not required to maintain medical confidentiality or medical records...."
The bill disregarded the reality that qualified medical doctors supervise ultrasound services at pregnancy centers, that performing abortions is hardly the gold standard for defining a health care facility, and that all pro-life pregnancy centers offer strictly confidential counseling regardless of legal requirements.
The bill also opened the door to withering attacks on its constitutionality by attorneys such as Denise Burke of Americans United for Life (AUL). Ms. Burke testified in both Virginia House and Senate that the vaguely worded bill violated constitutional due process by making pregnancy centers unconstitutionally vulnerable to capricious enforcement and unpredictable penalties.
Pregnancy centers can prepare for the inevitable future attacks by (a) forming ad hoc state coalitions to engage with legislators and (b) banding together with national pregnancy center associations such as CareNet and Heartbeat International. These organizations help maintain professional standards, track political developments and provide ongoing education to members.