Ben Johnson

Austin passes new anti-crisis pregnancy center ordinance; pro-lifers promise fight

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

AUSTIN, TEXAS, January 30, 2012, ( – Last week, the city of Austin repealed one speech-chilling ordinance targeting the city’s crisis pregnancy centers – and replaced it with another.

In April 2010, city council required the city’s four pregnancy centers – Austin Pregnancy Resource Center, South Austin Pregnancy Resource Center, the Gabriel Project Life Center, and Austin LifeCare – to post signs outside their facilities, in English and Spanish, stating: “This center does not provide abortions or refer to abortion providers. This center does not provide or refer to providers of U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved birth control drugs and medical devices.”

Failure to comply brought a misdemeanor citation and fines totaling $250 for the first offense, $350 for a second offense, and $450 for a third offense.

Attorneys representing the centers immediately notified the council of their objections. In October the Alliance Defense Fund, the Law of Life Project, and the Texas Center for Defense of Life (TCDL) filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

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After council members were informed that the city’s law department recommended repeal of the ordinance “to avoid further litigation costs,” they replaced Chapter 10-9 with Chapter 10-10. The new ordinance does not mandate specific wording, but compels centers to post signs on their grounds stating whether all their medical services are supervised by a licensed health care provider or practitioner and if it is a medical facility. 

Samuel B. Casey of the Law of Life Project told the new wording does not solve the constitutional issue, because “it violates the same standards”: the First Amendment right of free speech, which includes the right not to speak. 

The government cannot “make a private citizen speak the government’s message,” Casey said. “It doesn’t matter what the message is. What matters is that it’s the government’s message.”

“The Austin ordinance is clearly unconstitutional and will eventually suffer the same fate as all the other similar ordinances passed in other jurisdictions,” said TCDL President Greg Terra.

Austin became the second city in the nation to require the signs announcing that the centers do not provide abortions or abortion referrals, after a 7-0 vote. The first, Baltimore, had its ordinance declared unconstitutional last January. U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis ruled that the signage requirement “violates the Freedom of Speech Clause of Article I of the Constitution of the United States and is unenforceable,” because it “mandates the inclusion of a government message.”  As such, it infringed on the most deeply held religious views of the centers’ employees.

Judges have also granted a preliminary injunction against a similar statute in New York City and another in Montgomery County, Maryland. San Francisco considered its own version of the statute last October.

Casey stated Austin’s new law piles vague language on top of an unconstitutional structure, forcing him to add a new objection to his lawsuit.

Both ordinances were the brainchild of councilman Bill Spelman, who claims he only intended to produce “good consumer information.” However, he appeared in a YouTube video  uploaded by NARAL Pro-Choice NY in which he called a local crisis pregnancy center “a brainwashing outfit.”

In the video, “Exposing Crisis Pregnancy Centers One City at a Time,” Angela Hooton of the National Institute for Reproductive Health lays out a national strategy known as the Urban Initiative, designed to harass crisis pregnancy centers in urban areas, which are often dominated by more liberal politicians. Spelman’s policy director, Heidi Gerbracht, credited the initiative as the inspiration for his original ordinance. 

“These ideologically motivated ordinances seek only to harass and to hinder the free services that pro-life pregnancy centers provide,” TCDL President Greg Terra said. “This ordinance targets pregnancy centers for purely ideological reasons, simply because they are pro-life and encourage women to consider options other than abortion.”

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Raul A. Gonzalez has also spoken out against the ordinances. “NARAL and the City of Austin have chosen to bully these non-profit pregnancy resource centers who provide valuable services to women,” he said. “Less competition means more money, and the abortion industry is all about the money.”

Volunteers at the Austin centers, which aim to give women alternatives to abortion, say the regulation is offensive and needless, because they already tell women they will not refer clients for abortion or birth control and always indicate whether they have medical personnel available. There have been no complaints nor reports of deficiencies from regulating bodies. Casey told LifeSiteNews the only evidence before the council about his client, Austin LifeCare, was a May 2011 report that described the center as “a valuable and much-needed resource for pregnant and/or parenting women in the Austin area.” 

Since the ordinance goes into effect on February 6, before a motion for preliminary injunction can be heard, Casey said he will petition the court for a temporary restraining order this week. He is confident of success.

“I think the city counsel either doesn’t care about wasting taxpayer money on attorneys fees or has not been properly advised by their lawyers,” he said.

The legal organizations that represent the city’s pregnancy centers operate pro bono and accept donations to defray the costs of their litigation.

Contact Information:
Alliance Defense Fund
15100 N. 90th Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
1-800-TELL-ADF (835-5233)

The Law of Life Project
801 G Street North West
Washingtown, D.C. 20001
(202) 587-5652

Texas Center for Defense of Life
501 S. Austin Ave., Suite 1130
Georgetown, TX 78626
(512) 763-9068


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Fr. Mark Hodges

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VIDEO: Expert says China will continue forced abortions, sterilizations

Fr. Mark Hodges
By Fr. Mark Hodges

IRONDALE, Alabama, November 25, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – An expert on China says the country's move from the infamous "one-child per family" policy of forced abortion and sterilization to a "two-child" policy will leave the status quo largely intact.

Human rights activist Reggie Littlejohn, an expert on China and the president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, spoke with Raymond Arroyo of Eternal Word Television Network's The World Over show about China's new policy of allowing families two children.

Littlejohn said that the change from a one-child to a two-child policy is motivated not by human rights, but by demographics. "It is not that the Chinese communist party has suddenly grown a all. It is that they are facing a threefold demographic disaster."

First of all, Ms. Littlejohn said, China "doesn't have enough women, because of their gendercide."

"The core of the policy is not that they allow one child or two children, but is that they are setting a limit, and enforcing it through forced sterilization, forced contraception, and a whole web of surveillance of women, monitoring women's menstrual cycles and their fertility," Littlejohn explained. "All of that coercion will remain the same under a two-child policy."

"A two-child policy carries all of the [same] terrible and appalling methods of abortion as the one child policy," Ms. Littlejohn explained. "It's just that they start killing after two, instead of after one."

Littlejohn went on to say that China's demographic problems resulting from 40 years of gendercide will not be fixed by the new two-child allowance. "Even if China were to completely abolish their policy right now, and allow to everybody to have as many kids as they want to have, it's going to take twenty years for the women to grow to the point where they can marry, and everybody to the point where they can be workers," she said.

She said that the Chinese have "dug themselves in a hole that they can't get out of."  Arroyo pointed out that there are 33 million more men than women in China today.

Littlejohn does not expect gendercide to decrease immediately. "What I think is going to happen," Littlejohn said, "is couples who have a boy are going to stop at one," because of the high expense of having children in China. "And those who have a girl first are going to continue to abort a second daughter, because they still want to have a son."

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When Arroyo pointed out that government statistics say 350 billion dollars since 1980 were levied in fines against those who tried to defy China's one-child policy, Littlejohn responded, "That's why I don't think China will ever abandon its policy: it's a huge money-maker for them." She noted that local officials determine the amount of fines and line their pockets with the cash.

She pointed out that five years ago, the Chinese government admitted that over four hundred million babies in the womb have been killed – and that number is far greater today.

Littlejohn pointed out that any Chinese citizen who dares to tell the truth about the communist policy is persecuted. "People who get their stories to the West – not only do they have to endure the trauma of the forced abortion itself, but they have to endure trauma [against] themselves and their families from the Chinese Communist Party for seeing them before the world."

"Thank God for Ted Cruz, also for Marco Rubio, and for Congressman Chris Smith – all three of those have come out with very, very powerful statements saying basically that the two-child policy does not fix any of the problems with the one-child policy," Littlejohn said. "I'm so glad that they ... are getting the truth out there."

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz spoke against China's policy earlier this month. "In America, we should stand with victims of oppression," he said. "These are horrific acts of brutality. They are inhumane. They are contrary not only to American values, but to human rights across the globe, and they are carried out as a matter of policy."

Rep. Chris Smith and Sen. Marco Rubio have also issued statements cautioning that China's move to a two-child policy will not end brutal, coercive population control.  

Rep. Smith, chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees human rights and chairman of the Congressional-Executive China Commission, held a hearing entitled "China's One-Child Policy: The Government's Massive Crime Against Women and Unborn Babies." Smith explained, "The policy has directly contributed to what is accurately described as gendercide – the deliberate extermination of a girl, born or unborn, simply because she happens to be female."

In October, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio criticized China's two-child policy. "The policy is still repressive," Rubio explained. "The fact remains that when couples conceive a third child, the Chinese government will force them to eliminate him or her, by any means necessary."

Rubio concluded, "A two-child policy is as indefensible and inhumane as a one-child policy, and it would be a mistake to assume this change in any way reflects a newfound respect for human rights by Beijing. The U.S. must continue advocating for the complete elimination of government-forced population planning."

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Steve Weatherbe

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Irish children’s minister joins call for nation to abandon pro-life constitution

Steve Weatherbe
By Steve Weatherbe

DUBLIN, November 25, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Ireland's health minister has joined the chorus of feminist groups calling for a referendum to repeal the country's 30-year-old Eighth Amendment, a part of the Constitution, which allows abortion only when the mother's life is directly threatened.

Children's Minister Dr. James Reilly told the Sunday Independent that despite the reluctance of the major parties (including his own Fine Gael) to support a referendum, the public wants it. "We have had more than 30 years on this and we really need political leadership on this issue. I think it is quite clear from opinion polls that the vast majority of people are way ahead of politicians on this."

Reilly said women carrying unborn babies with fatal abnormalities should be allowed to have abortions, regardless of whether delivery poses a risk to their lives or health.

But Cora Sherlock, the head of the Prolife Campaign, told LifeSiteNews, "It is not something the people really want; it is not coming from the grassroots, but from a few pressure groups like Amnesty International. The people of Ireland have always had a heart for the unborn."

Pro-abortion activist Sinead Kennedy of the Repeal the Eighth Coalition said every politician should declare his or her position. "We would like to see political parties in the run up to the election [expected in spring] come out and declare that this will be [a] red-line issue for any participation in government."

In fact, in September, Ireland's Taoiseach, or prime minister, Enda Kenny, said his government, if re-elected, will hold a referendum on the Eighth Amendment only if a workable alternative is advanced at the same time.

Sherlock noted that despite an "aggressive campaign" from Amnesty Ireland and its uncritical promotion by the news media, popular support for the referendum is waning. A poll published by the Sunday Independent on Nov. 22 showed 56% in favor of the referendum, down 10% from June, with 22% opposed.

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Support for abortion in specific cases is also down: in cases of fatal abnormalities in the unborn baby, support for abortion is down 9% to 55%; when the mother threatens suicide, it is down 4% to 68%; and when there is a long-term threat to the mother's health, support is down 5% to 64%.

"I think it is going down because people are becoming aware of the Planned Parenthood stories from the U.S., and of Kermit Gosnell," Sherlock said, in reference to the videos showing America's leading abortion provider trafficking in body parts from aborted babies, and to the abortionist convicted of multiple murders of babies who survived his botched abortions only to be executed by him and his staff afterwards. "The news media don't like to cover those stories, but the social media has a mind of its own," she added.

Last year, several government ministers declared that the people of Ireland had "no appetite" or "little appetite" for a referendum; however, they might vote if it were held anyway. They promised there would be no referendum before the 2016 election and even warned against making it an election issue, which was the case in 1983 with the referendum that put Amendment Eight in the Constitution in the first place.

The Eighth Amendment declares the unborn child's life as equal to, and equally worthy of protection as, the life of the mother. The vagueness of this formula led the current government to pass a law two years ago allowing abortion when the mother's life is at risk, including at risk by suicide, right up to the day of a child's birth.

Popular opinion still opposed abortion as late as 2007, but by 2012, support for abortion had risen to 85%. Lately, Amnesty International has lent its reputation to the push for a referendum, leading Sherlock to predict, "Amnesty will be the loser when the hypocrisy of a so-called human rights group attacking the unborn becomes evident and when people see that they are only willing to talk about teenage pregnancy, but not about the unborn, not about the Planned Parenthood videos nor Kermit Gosnell, and about how these go hand in hand with abortion on request."

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Gina Raimondo, Democrat candidate for governor of Rhode Island
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Abortion supporters slam new budget by Rhode Island’s Democrat governor

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By Dustin Siggins

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island, November 25, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Abortion advocates aren't happy with a budget bill signed by Rhode Island's Democratic governor, because it gave 9,000 people insurance coverage that doesn't cover elective abortions.

Earlier this year, an anonymous HIV-positive practicing Catholic won a lawsuit against the state, gaining the right for citizens under the state's Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange to have an insurance plan that doesn't cover elective abortions. Shortly after John Doe's victory, pro-abortion governor Gina Raimondo signed a budget bill that included a pro-life rider making the legal victory statutory law.

The law caused 9,000 out of approximately 30,000 people who were automatically enrolled in health insurance programs for 2016 to have insurance coverage without elective abortion coverage. State officials are now scrambling to notify insurees that they can change their coverage by December 23.

Abortion groups aren't happy, with one blogger writing that Raimondo's signature means that "those who supported Gina Raimondo's bid for Governor of Rhode Island may want to seriously reconsider their support."

The governor won support from at least two national abortion groups in her race last year.

A spokesperson for Raimondo's office e-mailed that "the Governor's first priority is ensuring that all Rhode Islanders have the opportunity to access affordable health insurance that meets their needs, including access to safe and affordable reproductive healthcare."

"Changes in state policy require insurance carriers participating in HealthSource RI to offer one plan at every 'metal level' that does not include most abortion coverage," Maria Tocco told LifeSiteNews. "This year, HSRI launched an automatic renewal process to ensure that Rhode Islanders who signed up for coverage would maintain it without any gap in service."

Tocco e-mailed that "HSRI proactively reached out to all its customers by mail before the start of the open enrollment period to let customers know precisely which plans include abortion coverage and which do not."

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In a phone call, Tocco clarified that Health Source Rhode Island had gotten involved in contacting enrollees – a process normally left up to insurers – because state policy had caused the change in coverage. Tocco clarified that this would be the case if coverage for other medical services and products were changed by state policy.

Barth Bracy, the executive director of Rhode Island Right to Life, said arguments by abortion advocates that they want to expand choice to those who may not be aware of the loss of abortion insurance coverage are false. "Note that each enrollee in an abortion plan (regardless of age, sex, or family status) pays a surcharge into the abortion-slush fund created by Obamacare," he said. "The fewer people who enroll in an abortion-covering plan, the higher the charge must be on those who do choose those plans, increasing the differential between the abortion and non-abortion plans, thus making the abortion plans less attractive."

"This is all about padding the Obamacare abortion slush fund," he concluded, saying that "the only 'error' by the government (both federal and state) was the error of King Herod, who did not succeed in his designs to get every single child. And that was due to the work of RI Right to Life and ADF, which together threw a monkey wrench into the monstrous machine created by Obamacare."

Doe told LifeSiteNews that he is "pleased and grateful that, because of the efforts of the Rhode Island State Right to Life Committee, the Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit, and subsequent state legislation, Rhode Islanders who oppose abortion can now participate in the state's health insurance exchange without being forced to fund abortions."

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Casey Mattox said that "Rhode Islanders now have the choice of plans that cover and those that don't cover elective abortions." Mattox criticized abortion advocates for "demand[ing] that everyone, including a pro-life man like our client, be compelled to pay a special abortion fee to subsidize the abortion industry. Federal and state law requires Rhode Island to offer this choice to their citizens, and we are pleased with this outcome."

Tocco told LifeSiteNews that the bill and the John Doe lawsuit were unrelated. However, Mattox, who represented Doe in court, noted that the bill's signature "took place after our client won his lawsuit."

"It doesn't matter to us how the governor wants to frame this," Mattox told LifeSiteNews. "We are just glad for the people of Rhode Island that the right thing was done."

Bracy clarified that the rider was his group's way of making sure the legal decision was formally in state law.


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