MONTGOMERY, MD, March 10, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Maryland-based pregnancy care center has won its lawsuit against a county law that requires it to post a notice stating it does not have doctors on staff. The law, which exempts abortion clinics from the same requirement, was permanently blocked by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
On its website, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) described the law as forcing “'limited-service pregnancy centers' and individuals who have a 'primary purpose' of offering information about pregnancy” to put up signs letting clients know medical professionals are not on staff. The signs must also make clients aware that speaking with a licensed medical professional is advised by the county's health department.
ADF, which represented pro-life pregnancy center Centro Tepeyac in its fight against the law, also said that “the county intentionally crafted the law so that it doesn’t apply to pro-abortion centers, such as Planned Parenthood, even if counseling is offered there by non-medical persons.”
ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox told LifeSiteNews, “This law, and others like it, are NARAL-driven attacks on non-profit pregnancy centers because they cut into abortion's bottom line. NARAL, PP, and their allies recognize this growing threat of pro-life pregnancy centers that provide health and hope to women for free, without taking taxpayer money.”
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“These attacks backfired because the court recognized there was simply no evidence pregnancy centers are harming anyone,” said Mattox. The judge who instituted the permanent injunction noted in the decision that “the county has put no evidence into the record to demonstrate that failure clearly to state that no doctors are on premises has led to any negative health outcomes.”
The judge also called into question the opinions of those who had said there was improper information being given out at pro-life pregnancy centers, noting that those who said a “misinformation problem” existed “were universally volunteers from a pro-choice organization sent to investigate practices” at the centers.
Mattox said the Montgomery County law passed with evidence from the 2006 Waxman Report. The report, published by retiring Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), claimed that 87 percent of 23 pregnancy care centers interviewed by undercover agents “provided false or misleading information about the health effects of abortion.” All of the centers contacted were receiving federal funds from the Compassion Capital Fund at the time of the report.
Waxman's office did not return a request for comment.
According to Mattox, the timing of the decision is apt, given Waxman's retirement at the end of 2014. “The court's rejection of the supposed evidence in the Waxman Report is a fitting epitath to Congressman Waxman's career of defending the abortion industry and attacking those who provide alternatives.”
At least four other lawsuits are pending regarding similar laws across the country, according to ADF. Those cities are New York City, San Francisco, Baltimore, and Austin.
Centro Tepeyac was founded in 1990, and is located in Silver Spring, Maryland, several miles outside of Washington, D.C. Mattox said the law will be struck down unless it is appealed to the 4th Circuit Court.