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Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Get Big Legal Win

BY MICHAEL FOUST                                                                          ©2012 Baptist Press

In the latest legal victory for pro-life crisis pregnancy centers nationwide, an appeals court has struck down a Baltimore, Maryland, law that would have required such facilities to post, in large print outside their doors, a sign saying they don't provide abortions or refer clients to abortion providers.

Crisis pregnancy centers said the signs would have chased women away before they got the help they needed, and they also argued the signs were an unconstitutional violation of free speech.

In a 2-1 ruling June 27, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the centers, upholding an earlier decision by a lower court judge.

In a separate 2-1 decision the same day, the appeals court also struck down a Montgomery County, Maryland, law requiring that pregnancy centers post a sign with two disclosures: first, stating that a "licensed medical professional" is not on staff, and second, that the "Montgomery County Health Officer encourages women who are or may be pregnant to consult with a licensed health care provider." Baltimore resides in Montgomery County.

The Montgomery County law, the court said, "amounts to an impermissible government control of speech."

"The government-mandated statement, which must be posted 'conspicuously' on a pregnancy center's wall, suggests to potential clients that the center is not to be trusted and that a pregnancy center's services, like religious counseling or job placement assistance, will usually be inferior to those offered by medical professionals," the majority ruled.  

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