Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pro-life pregnancy centers win in Maryland

by Katie Craine

BALTIMORE, Maryland, July 10, 2012 ( – The U.S. Court of Appeal for the Fourth Circuit ruled on June 27 that two laws that sought to regulate pregnancy centers in Baltimore and Montgomery County are unconstitutional.

Last year U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow issued an injunction on the law in Montgomery County and U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis did the same to the Baltimore law. These rulings were both appealed, and the federal court has now stated they are unconstitutional in a 2-1 vote.

The first law, in Baltimore, required centers to post signs saying they don’t provide abortions or birth control. The Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns along with the Archdiocese of Baltimore challenged this law in court.

The second law, in Montgomery County, required centers to post signs saying that they don’t have a licenced medical professional on staff, and that the local health officer “encourages women who are or may be pregnant to consult with a licensed health care provider.” The Centro Tepeyac Women’s Center challenged this law.

Both centers challenged the laws saying they violate their right to free speech in the constitution.

“The Pregnancy Center seeks to provide free information about pregnancy, abortion, and birth control as informed by a religious and political belief,” said Judge Paul V. Niemeyer along with Judge G. Steven Agee, who both voted against the laws. “This kind of ideologically driven speech has routinely been afforded the highest levels of First Amendment protection, even when accompanied by offers of commercially valuable services.”

“At a time when religious freedom is being challenged on many fronts, this ruling represents a major victory for the First Amendment and for those people who seek to live their lives and their faith according to it,” said Archbishop of Baltimore William E. Lori, whose diocese was also involved in the Baltimore lawsuit.

Both the city of Baltimore and Montgomery County could appeal these rulings to the full appeals court or to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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