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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Virginia abortion activists attack pregnancy centers with unconstitutional bill

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.
The legal notice informs all potential customers that the store does not sell bear traps, that it is therefore not a "real" sporting goods store, and that it is not a reliable source for sporting information. The new law enables the bear trap seller to establish a virtual monopoly on all sporting goods sales.
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.
Thankfully, a coalition of AUL, the Family Foundation, Care Net, and Heartbeat International managed to blunt the attack with sound reasoning and evidence, and bill was recently withdrawn.
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.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

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kimberly said...

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