NARAL has successfully lobbied the Austin City Council to pass a new city ordinance that attacks the constitutional rights of Life-affirming pregnancy resource centers.
Pregnancy centers would be required to post signs on their entrances to certify “whether or not they offer medical services under the direction of a licensed health care provider.” These signs would most certainly be unsettling to anyone, including women in unplanned pregnancies.
This new ordinance is intended to replace 2010’s controversial rule that required Austin pregnancy centers to post signs at the entrance stating they did not provide or refer for abortions or provide FDA approved birth control drugs and medical devices. This ordinance faced an immediate lawsuit charging that the ordinance violated pregnancy centers’ freedom of speech, especially considering that abortion businesses were not required to post any signs about services they did or did not offer. They City of Austin agreed not to enforce the ordinance, giving the council time to repeal the law and avoid a lengthy court battle.
Yet after repealing the original ordinance, the new ordinance was immediately introduced. The new signs do not contain the words “abortion” or “birth control,” but the language is no less problematic, and Pro-Life lawyers representing Austin pregnancy centers are planning to continue with litigation.
The new signs use the phrase “under the direction of a licensed health care provider.” Although most pregnancy resource centers offer sonogram services under a certified sonographer, these centers must still post the sign, as sonograms are officially labeled as “therapeutic” rather than “medical.”
The transcripts and votes from council meetings show the clear anti-Life bias of Austin city officials. Pregnancy resource centers are labeled as “limited service pregnancy centers” while abortion centers offer “comprehensive birth control services” in council documents. The transcripts show that nearly every member supported their vote by using pro-abortion catchphrases including “women’s health care rights.”
The fact that the ordinance passed unanimously by a vote of 6-0 shows that no council member was willing to speak up for Life. If even one council member had voted no, then perhaps pregnancy resource centers would have been called “comprehensive social service networks,” and abortion centers “limited service pregnancy centers.”
The Austin City Council is made up of the following seven members: Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Mayor Pro-Tem Sheryl Cole, Chris Riley, Mike Martinez, Kathie Tovo, Laura Morrison, and Bill Spelman. These seven members were able to craft anti-Life ordinances without any opposition. Voting Pro-Life in often neglected local elections is another important front of the Pro-Life movement.