The Liberty Institute has filed a lawsuit declaring a City of Austin ordinance unconstitutional. The ordinance forces pregnancy centers to post signs at their entrances stating that they do not provide abortions or birth control drugs and devices. Although pregnancy resource centers do not make abortion referrals, they do provide referrals to doctors who prescribe birth control pills. Pregnancy centers also teach the recognized birth control methods of abstinence and natural family planning.
Jonathan Saenz, director of Legislative Affairs at Liberty Institute, wrote on the organization’s legislative blog, “The Decision by the Austin City Council to compel false and misleading speech is a clear violation of the pregnancy center’s constitutional rights and a despicable ploy to deter women and families from using these charitable centers.”
Pregnancy centers in Austin will face financial penalties if they do not clearly display these signs at their entrances. The Austin City Council’s ordinance clearly compels misleading speech from the pregnancy resource centers in violation of the First Amendment. The ordinance is also discriminatory because of the lack of similarly required disclaimers from abortion facilities.
The Austin ordinance is part of a coordinated campaign across the country by NARAL Pro-Choice America. Although this is the first ordinance of its kind in Texas, similar measures have been passed in Baltimore and New York City. However, both of these measures were enjoined by federal judges as violations of the First Amendment. NARAL has forcefully and successfully lobbied for all of these measures.
NARAL's actions have revealed the pro-abortion side's complete double standard when it comes to the concept of “compelled speech.” While NARAL is more than happy to fight to force speech from pregnancy centers, the Center for Reproductive Rights is using “compelled speech” as its main argument against the Sonogram Law in Texas. According to that logic, it is perfectly acceptable to force pregnancy centers to post intentionally misleading signs designed to scare women into the hands of the abortion industry, yet it is taboo to require doctors to give women all pertinent medical information before undergoing an abortion.
Pregnancy resource centers provide life-affirming options to women in crisis pregnancies, and pro-abortion forces have shown they are willing to take any steps necessary to close them down.