Search This Blog

Monday, January 31, 2011

Judge protects pregnancy centers' free speech

Misnamed "pro-choice" activists in Baltimore, Md. tried to muzzle the free speech of pregnancy centers (which provide women with pregnancy tests, counsel and support during and after their pregnancy) by passing an ordinance requiring centers to post signs saying they don't provide abortions, abortion referrals or contraception. Abortion advocates claimed the measure was needed to insure that women visiting pregnancy centers received full "medical information."
However, as pointed out by CareNet, a national organization of pregnancy centers:
"If there truly is a legitimate concern for full disclosure and full information provided to women facing pregnancy-related decisions, the following amendments should be added to the bill to require abortion providers to disclose and subject them to similar criminal sanctions in the event they fail to disclose: (a) the various risks associated with abortions, (b) that abortion providers gain financially from a woman’s decision to abort and do not gain from a woman’s decision to parent or adopt; (c) the risks and failure rates of any contraception distributed by family planning agencies; (d) that abortion providers do not have hospital privileges at local hospitals in the event of a medical emergency; (e) that abortion providers and family planning centers do to refer to pregnancy centers; (f) that the abortion provider does not show ultrasound images to its clients or let them listen to the fetus’ heartbeat during pre-abortion examinations, (g) the lack of the full array of options and services available to pregnancy women by abortion providers, including the failure to provide adoption referrals."
The ordinance also violated the conscience rights of pro-life physicians and pregnancy centers, CareNet noted in its testimony before the Council:
City Council Bill 406 improperly infringes upon rights of conscience protections provided by Maryland law by subjecting physicians and pregnancy centers who oppose abortion to regulation involving criminal discipline. Maryland Code 20-214(a)(1) &(2) provides: "A person may not be required to perform or participate in, or refer to any source for, any medical procedure that results in artificial insemination, sterilization, or termination of pregnancy. The refusal of a person to perform or participate in, or refer to a source for, these medical procedures may not be a basis for: (i) Civil liability to another person; or (ii) Disciplinary or other recriminatory action against the person."

City Council members ignored the double standard and the conscience violation, however, and passed the ordinance.

As the Baltimore Sun reports, "In a decision issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis wrote that the requirement violates the centers' constitutional right to free speech."
CareNet President Melinda Delahoyde reacted to the decision in a press release by saying, “A victory for pregnancy centers is a victory for women facing unplanned pregnancies, women who deserve life-affirming options and abortion alternatives.”

No comments: