After LifeSiteNews published emails Tuesday showing Montgomery County officials collaborating with NARAL’s Maryland chapter in an effort to shut down pro-life pregnancy centers, the county council’s current president has admitted they are authentic.
Montgomery County Council President George Leventhal told Aleteia, an online Catholic news agency, “I do not dispute the content of the emails quoted in the article.”
The emails, gathered from a Freedom of Information Act request by LifeSiteNews, showed Leventhal directing county staff to take action on recommendations sent by NARAL Maryland President Jodi Finkelstein to target pregnancy centers.
On March 14, 2014, Finkelstein wrote the council after a third judge had ruled against a county statute requiring pregnancy centers to post a sign noting if no medical personnel were on-site. She suggested the council drop its defense of the statute, and offered a seven-point bulleted list of strategies to impede the centers’ pro-life work.
“It is our hope that the Montgomery County Council (Council) will once again partner with us to ensure Montgomery Council citizens are aware of the misleading tactics used by crisis pregnancy centers,” Finkelstein wrote.
See a PDF file of the emails LifeSiteNews obtained here.
In response, regarding a recommendation to eliminate the centers’ funding, Leventhal asked the director of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services to “let me know whether county funds are currently supporting limited-service pregnancy centers and under what terms and conditions women are referred to such centers.”
“I am also asking Amanda Mahill of the County Council staff to research federal regulations referenced in your letter governing the use of ultrasounds,” he added in the same e-mail, which was sent on March 18, 2014.
“I doubt my colleagues or the County Attorney will be interested in pursuing a truth-in-advertising statute,” he added. “While I agree these centers are deceptive, they are clearly very artful at devising strategies to avoid violating the law.”
The County eventually dropped its defense of the requirement on April 30, 2014.
The financial support by Leventhal and the Council for the NARAL-supported regulation did not just include time spent by Council members, their staffs, and Mihill. After dropping its defense, the county had to pay $375,000 to the lawyers of Centro Tepeyac, one of the centers targeted by the statute.
Leventhal, Mihill, and Finkelstein did not respond to LifeSiteNews' requests for comments about the revelations in the FOIA-ed emails.
“NARAL and its pro-abortion legislators are colluding to attack pro-life centers that help women because they know their laws violate the First Amendment, and their emails even admit that pro-life centers are often medically licensed and are not violating any law,” said Matt Bowman, Alliance Defending Freedom’s senior legal counsel and one of the attorneys who represented Centro Tepeyac in the case.
“But NARAL and its biased politicians persist in persecuting pro-life centers on the theory that because those centers promote a pro-life message, the centers are by definition ‘deceptive,’” he continued.
“Anytime the government and special interests define the pro-life view as deceptive and try to punish that view, they are colluding to violate the constitution.”
Montgomery County Council
Email: [email protected]
George Leventhal, President
Email: [email protected]