LIFE DIGEST: S.F. battle over pregnancy center speech continues

By Tom Strode
Oct 17, 2012

Another city’s effort to police pro-life pregnancy help centers recently received a mixed review in federal court.

Federal Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong ruled for now a San Francisco ordinance barring “false or misleading advertising” by pregnancy help centers had been shown to infringe the constitutional guarantee of equal protection, Courthouse News Service (CNS) reported Oct. 3.

Also in this edition: Reported 219 babies preserved so far in 40 Days for Life, Streep, other celebrities campaign against pro-life efforts, and Judge upholds Alaska parental notification law.

Armstrong, however, rejected the suit’s claim the law is unconstitutionally vague. In a victory for the cause of the pregnancy centers, she said the vagueness complaint could be amended as the case proceeds in court, according to CNS.

As with other cities that have passed ordinances regulating pregnancy centers’ speech, San Francisco’s measure does not apply to centers that perform abortions.

First Resort Pregnancy Center, which has three pregnancy help centers in the San Francisco area, challenged the Pregnancy Information Disclosure and Protection Act after it was enacted in 2011.

“We’re very concerned about the city attorney of San Francisco taking his own definition of what is misleading and what is misinforming and forcing it down our throats,” said Paul Sluis, a First Resort board member, according to CitizenLink.com

“We don’t mislead anybody,” he said. “We don’t even use factual information that is dubious. We stick to medical information that is well attested, peer-reviewed and absolutely accurate.”

Ordinances adopted in New York City, Baltimore, Md., and Austin, Texas, require pregnancy help centers to display signs saying they do not provide abortions or contraceptives or make referrals for the services. A law approved in Montgomery County, Md., mandates each center post a sign saying there is no “licensed medical professional” on its staff and the county urges women who are, or who may be, pregnant to see a licensed provider.

In June, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., ruled both Baltimore and Montgomery County violated the free speech rights of pro-life pregnancy centers with their ordinances.

A federal judge blocked enforcement of the New York City ordinance while it is being considered. Austin repealed its law after it was challenged.

Reported 219 babies preserved so far in 40 Days for Life

The latest 40 Days for Life campaign received reports during its first 21 days of 219 babies not being aborted by their abortion-minded mothers.
The 40-day effort – which focuses on peaceful, pro-life prayer vigils outside abortion clinics – began Sept. 26 at locations in 49 states, the District of Columbia and seven Canadian provinces, as well as Australia, England, Spain and Uganda.
In recent reports:

  • Two women changed their minds on the same day outside the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta. The clinic performs second-trimester abortions. One of the women was 22 weeks pregnant, the other 17 weeks pregnant. “These women were met with love and acceptance from the
    moment they drove onto the clinic property and it was this love that drew them to us,” a volunteer reported to 40 Days staff. One of the women texted, “I’m just glad to have some support. Thank you!”
  • A man spoke to volunteers outside a Raleigh, N.C., abortion center, saying, “I have taught my daughter moral values all her life,” he said, according to 40 Days. “She heard y’all out here praying when she came here today. She heard y’all when she came out. She has decided to have my grandchild. Thank you!”

Streep, other celebrities campaign against pro-life efforts

A leading abortion rights organization has enlisted Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep and other movie/television stars in a campaign against pro-life legislative efforts.

The “Draw the Line” campaign of the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) kicked off Oct. 9 with online videos featuring Streep, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Lisa Kudrow, Tea Leoni, Audra McDonald, Olympia Dukakis, Amy Poehler and others.

“Every day, the opponents of our fundamental reproductive rights are passing laws designed to take those rights away,” Streep says in a video. “They’re shutting down doctors and clinics across the nation. They’re making it nearly impossible for millions of women to get the essential healthcare they need.”

The effort urges endorsements of CRR’s “Bill of Reproductive Rights,” which calls for protection for the right to abortion and other services.

Judge upholds Alaska parental notification law

An Alaska judge has upheld a state law requiring under-age girls to notify at least one parent before having an abortion.

John Suddock, a state Superior Court judge, ruled Oct. 8 the law – which permits minors to request a judicial bypass of the requirement — is constitutional, according to Reuters News Service.

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest challenged the law after it was approved in a 2010 ballot initiative.

“A young girl’s well-being is worth more than Planned Parenthood’s bottom line. Abortionists don’t care more about children than parents do,” said Steven Aden, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which helped defend the law.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission works to protect the sanctity of human life. If you would like to learn more about this issue, additional resources are available here. Our free, downloadable Impact resource is also available online. If your church is interested in purchasing materials on the sanctity of human life, please visit our online bookstore and erlc.com

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