MARYLAND: Federal Appeals Court To Rule On "Faith-Based" Fake Abortion Clinics
A federal appeals court has agreed to re-hear a challenge on whether Baltimore can force fake "pregnancy crisis centers" to post signs admitting that they do not perform abortions. Such sham clinics lure in desperate young women all over the country. Once inside "faith counselors" then try to talk women out of having abortions or using birth control.
A lower court had ruled that it was an unconstitutional breach of free speech to make these scam operations reveal the truth about what is actually in store for their tricked clients. As you might guess, the Catholic Church is behind all of this.
City officials eager to present their case said this week's decision gives them confidence that the law is on their side, while Catholic leaders said they will prevail despite a new hearing. "Every judicial review of this onerous law has resulted in the same finding: namely, that it is a violation of these centers' First Amendment rights, including freedom of speech and religious liberty," the Archdiocese of Baltimore said in a statement. "We have every reason to think that another fair review of this ordinance will yield the same result." Suzanne Sangree, Baltimore chief solicitor, said it is rare for the 4th Circuit to grant a rehearing. "The grant of a rehearing gives us new hope that the City's consumer protection ordinance will be upheld," said City Solicitor George Nilson in a statement. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake sponsored legislation for the 2009 ordinance when she was City Council president. It was challenged in court by St. Brigid's Roman Catholic Church, the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns and then-Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien.The scam clinics used to advertise in the Yellow Pages under "abortion services." These days they largely rely on web search term placements and messages on mass transit. Such ads are routinely defaced on New York City's subway. I don't think I've ever seen an intact one.