NEW YORK, February 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-life sources in New York City have learned that a bill designed to gag pro-life crisis pregnancy centers (CPC), much like one in Baltimore that was deemed unconstitutional, is slated to be voted out of committee and immediately put to a full Council vote next Wednesday.
Proposed Initiative 371-A accuses crisis pregnancy centers of employing “deceptive practices” that “can impede and/or delay” women’s access to abortion.
The bill mandates that pro-life centers display a sign declaring that they do not provide abortions “in writing, in English and Spanish … conspicuously posted in the entrance of the pregnancy cervices center; at least one additional sign posted in any area where clients wait to receive services; and in any advertisement promoting the services of such pregnancy service center in clear and prominent letter type.”
Any CPC in violation of the rule would be liable for up to a $1000 fine for a first offense, and up to $2,500 for subsequent offenses, as well as up to six months imprisonment.
The measure has been strongly supported by NARAL Pro-Choice New York, who had helped spur introduction of the measure with an investigative report that claimed CPC workers misled women about abortion. Ironically, the title of the report, “She said abortion could cause breast cancer,” portrayed as a myth a health risk that has been verified by top researchers.
In November 2010 testimony before the Committee on Women’s Issues of the New York City Council, Jeanneane Maxon, general counsel for the CPC network Care Net, pointed out the “clear Constitutional concerns” over government regulation of speech raised by Int. No. 371 for specifically targeting only facilities that do not offer abortions. “It would not matter how professional, honest, forthright, and/or legally compliant the pregnancy center is; the proposed local law would still apply only because the pregnancy center holds a pro-life viewpoint,” said Maxon.
Last month, a federal judge ruled that a bill forcing Baltimore pregnancy centers to post signs stating that they don’t refer for abortions was “unenforcable” for unconstitutionally controlling the centers’ speech.
Ed Machmann, the Assistant Director for the Family Life/Respect Life Office at the Archdiocese of New York, told LifeSiteNews.com Friday afternoon that although the city council has “been hearing quite a lot from our side,” the battle was decidedly uphill. The city council is overwhelmingly controlled by the Democrat party and led by Speaker Christine Quinn, who is an open lesbian closely allied to the abortion lobby.
“It’s a tough audience,” Machmann said. “There has been some mitigation of the terms of the bill, but they’re still dead set on passing it.” Machmann said nonetheless that pro-life forces were ready to challenge the constitutionality of the initiative in court should it pass.
There are about two dozen crisis pregnancy center offices in New York, which has been dubbed the “abortion capital of the world” for its extremely high rate of abortions, with 89,000 unborn children killed there every year. There are reportedly about 45 licensed abortion clinics in the city, in addition to an estimated two dozen more that are unlicensed.
Chris Slattery, founder of Expectant Mother Care and a top pro-life advocate in New York City, will be hosting a rally against the bill Wednesday starting at Trinity Church at 12:15pm.
“Please help us fight hard to defend a mother’s right to know the unadorned truth about abortion, to give her true help and hope, and to operate as in a free country and not a police state,” Slattery wrote in the appeal for donations.