By Dave Andrusko
The non-stop campaign to attack women-helping crisis pregnancy centers took another leap forward today when the New York City Council passed a measure very much like the Baltimore City ordinance recently struck down by the U.S. District Court of Maryland. Pro-abortion Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he will sign the bill.
Jessica Lappin, a Manhattan Democrat, and the bill’s primary sponsor, told the Wall Street Journal that her bill is “much more content-neutral” and “broader” than the Baltimore ordinance. “It absolutely does not trample on First Amendment rights and it’s ridiculous for (critics) to make that claim.”
But Care Net, a national network of pregnancy centers, labeled the measure a “part of a nationwide campaign by abortion industry advocates to publicly attack and ultimately shut down entities like pregnancy centers that support abortion alternatives.” The centers will be forced to post and orally state (in English and Spanish) “a disclaimer regarding the services they do not offer, namely abortion and contraception, and stating whether or not a medical provider is on site.” Noticeably, abortion clinics are not required to post or orally state the services they do not provide. “The bill also opens up the center to costly lawsuits by providing a private right of action by aggrieved persons,” according to Care Net.
Lappin argues it is an issue of “transparency.” Not so, according to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan. In a joint statement with the Bishop of Brooklyn, Dolan said, “This legislation is designed to prevent pro-life advocates from speaking freely merely because their speech is considered unwelcome by some powerful interest groups that favor abortion.”
Chris Slattery, the director of a network of crisis pregnancy centers in New York, says the bill is an attack on free speech. “What they are trying to do is shut us down and cripple us and prevent women who are considering an abortion from coming and that will lead to more abortions,” Slattery told Grace Rauh of Ny1.com.
Five weeks ago U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis threw out a comparable Baltimore city ordinance (see www.nrlc.org/NewsToday/BaltimoreFreeSpeech.html).
In his closely reasoned 29-page decision, he wrote, “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.”
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