Dustin Siggins

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Victory: Maryland county drops defense of law that discriminated against crisis pregnancy center

Dustin Siggins
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MONTGOMERY, MD, May 1, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Maryland county has stopped defending a law that would have forced a crisis pregnancy center to meet signage standards from which abortion facilities were exempted.

In March, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ruled against a Montgomery County regulation that required posting a notice that doctors are not on staff. The regulation exempted abortion clinics from the same requirement, which also said that care centers must make visitors aware that speaking with licensed medical professionals is recommended by the county.

Centro Tepeyac, a pregnancy care center located several miles from Washington, D.C., had challenged the law. As of last evening, the county has dropped the case, which was permanently blocked in March.

“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 noted in his original decision.

Furthermore, the decision implied that abortion proponents are out to get crisis pregnancy centers. The judge called into question claims by those who say improper information was 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.

Casey Mattox, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Centro Tepeyac, told LifeSiteNews that the Montgomery County law was based in part on “misinformation” gathered by the 2006 Waxman Report, authored by retiring Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, a staunch abortion proponent.

After last night's decision, Mattox told LifeSiteNews that the county "clearly realized it was not going to win its case after two losses in the District Court and a loss in the 4th Circuit."

"It took three 'Nos' for an answer, but the county finally got the message," Mattox said. He added that the original decision by the District Court granted a preliminary injunction to Centro Tepeyac, which was largely upheld by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. When the case came back to the District Court, the permanent injunction was granted.

To continue fighting Centro Tepeyac, the county would have had to again appeal the decision to the Fourth Circuit.

While the permanent injunction only applies to Centro Tepeyac, Mattox said that "the principles in the decision should foreclose its application to any pregnancy center in the county."

Furthermore, according to Mattox, "as the District Court noted, the county was unable to provide any evidence of anyone being misled by any pregnancy center in Montgomery County."

"If the County did try to enforce this unconstitutional law against another pregnancy resource center, Alliance Defending Freedom would stand ready to assist them," Mattox vowed.

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According to Heartbeat International president Peggy Hartshorn, "the Centro Tepeyac victory is also a vindication for all pregnancy centers whose reputations NARAL and Planned Parenthood, and even retiring Congressman Henry Waxman (in his notorious and false "report"), have tried to smear since the 1980's."

"A court of law has looked at all the evidence and drawn the obvious, truthful verdict," continued Hartshorn. "A pregnancy resource center, staffed primarily with non-medical volunteers who provide loving help and crucial information for pregnant women, is doing no harm!" Hartshorn, whose umbrella organization includes more than 1,800 pregnancy care center affiliations worldwide, called pregnancy help centers "vital resources, helping to ensure healthy mothers and babies, and they are needed in every community!"

Waxman's office and Montgomery County did not respond to requests for comment. NARAL Pro-Choice America, which supported the county's law, also did not return a request.  

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