Great news for the city of Baltimore: A federal judge has struck down a law that would require crisis pregnancy centers to post signs saying that they don’t provide abortions, or pay a fine. Steven Ertelt reports:
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the former city council president who is now the mayor, sponsored the measure that the city council approved on a 12-3 vote. The council defeated an amendment to the bill that would have required abortion businesses to post a similar sign confirming they do not provide abortion alternatives.
“Under the Ordinance, such an organization – referred to as a “limited-service pregnancy center” – must post a conspicuous sign in its waiting room notifying its clients that the center “does not provide or make referral for abortion or birth-control services,’” the judge wrote. “As discussed herein, the Court holds that the Ordinance violates the Freedom of Speech Clause of Article I of the Constitution of the United States and is unenforceable.”
“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. 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,” Judge Garbis added.
Similar laws are currently under consideration in New York City and Washington, but this turn of events should make it more difficult for the ordinances to pass — and good thing. It was clear from the beginning that the proposed law was never about “accountability” — otherwise, why not hold abortion providers to the same standard? And why else would the measure have been so aggressively supported by NARAL? Thank heavens that cooler heads (and ones passing familiar with the Constitution) have prevailed.