Judge Marvin J. Garbis of the U.S. District Court in Baltimore, MD, heard arguments August 4th over a recently approved city ordinance targeting pregnancy resource centers. The ordinance, if upheld, would force Pro-Life pregnancy resource centers to post signs stating that they do not perform or refer for abortions nor provide birth control. The hearing was part of a lawsuit filed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore claiming that the ordinance sought only to hinder the work of these pregnancy centers. David Kinkopf, legal council for the Archdiocese, aptly noted, “It’s only about abortion. And it’s only about who is opposed to abortion.”
Judge Garbis questioned Suzanne Sangree, an official with the city of Baltimore. In the end, Sangree conceded that the ordinance would apply to “clinics that don’t refer for abortions or birth control.” Officials for the city of Baltimore stated that the ordinance was put in place because women were not being given full and accurate information at pregnancy resource centers. Such accusations are not new; NARAL has beaten this tired old drum for decades, alleging that pregnancy centers employ “misleading and downright deceptive advertisements to lure women into their organizations and promote their anti-abortion agenda.” As evidence of so-called deceitful practices, the NARAL affiliate in Virginia referenced the information given to women by centers, such as increased risks of cancer associated with abortion and Post-Abortion Stress Disorder. Even if abortion advocates reject studies confirming these effects of abortion, they cannot then accuse pregnancy centers of lying to women based on this evidence. Ironic that an organization formed and sustained on lies and chicanery would protest so loudly.
Carol Lewis of Baltimore’s Center for Pregnancy Concern saw the lies NARAL used in attempts to discredit her center and others with the same mission. She emphasized, “We have many of our clients fill out evaluations after they’ve been helped…We do not now, nor have we ever, had complaints about being misled in any way, or problems with the services [our clients]received.”
The ordinance is unjust in that abortion providers are left untouched. Abortion providers are not required to announce in a sign or other manner that they profit from the sale of abortion. Further, the mills are not required to announce that they do not offer adoption services or non-contraceptive birth control, leaving un-addressed the issue of informing women of other options and more importantly, the proven, undisputable risks of abortion.
During the hearing, Ms. Sangree claimed that the ordinance is “no different from ones bars must [comply with by posting signs]saying they will not serve minors alcohol.” Judge Garbis sympathized: “Every woman who goes into a clinic should know that she’s going to a clinic that does not refer for abortions.” There is, in fact, a significant difference between a bar declaring in print that said establishment does not sell alcohol to minors and forcing a pregnancy center to advertise that it does not commit abortions. Laws prohibit bars from serving alcohol to minors while no law mandates what services must or must not be provided by a non-profit pregnancy center. Will auto-repair shops now have to disclose that they do not paint houses or provide abortion?
While Planned Parenthood continues to line its already-fat pockets with blood money from abortion, no ordinance or law mandates that Planned Parenthood advertise this nor are they required to disclaim that they do not offer adoption services or alternatives to abortion. Also, most pregnancy centers offer a wide range of services all for free, whereas a first-trimester abortion at Planned Parenthood averages $350-900. (PlannedParenthood.org)