Baltimore City Council OKs Measure Targeting Pregnancy Centers on Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
November 18, 2009
Baltimore, MD (LifeNews.com) — The Baltimore City Council has signed off on a local ordinance that attacks pregnancy centers by making them post signs saying they do not do abortions or provide contraception. The proposal contains no stipulations for abortion centers saying they don’t provide alternatives.
City Council Bill 09-0406 would fine pregnancy centers $150 per day if they do not comply with the city ordinance.
An amendment that would have required abortion centers to post disclaimers was not approved.
Members of the city council approved the measure 12-3 on a second reading vote Monday night and there is one final vote before it goes to the mayor.
City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake sponsored the ordinance and told WBAL-TV that she is supposedly "not interested in harassment" and not favoring "an aura of burden on these centers."
Local residents Anthony and Annunziata Kurek are disappointed the city council approved the measure and they said there was no proof presented during the hearings showing pregnancy centers misleading women.
"As citizens and taxpayers of the city of Baltimore, we are very uncomfortable with the City Council acting as a political arm of Planned Parenthood and NARAL," they said in a letter to the editor of the Baltimore Sun newspaper.
"Since there were no citizens of the city who testified that the pregnancy centers gave them misleading information, our elected officials obviously took the word of those two organizations. No proof was offered," the continued.
"We want our city leaders to focus on issues which effect the people of the city every day, such as, crime, education, and sanitation," the couple said.
Gail Tierney, executive director of the Rockville Pregnancy Center, previously told the Washington Examiner the measure is discriminatory.
"Why don’t they have to post that they do not provide free prenatal vitamins, do not provide free sonograms … STD [sexually transmitted disease] testing … Pap smears … clothing. …?"
Maryland Right to Life has also urged the council to reject the bill.
"At the hearing held on October 27, no one could testify to any disinformation or deception from any Baltimore City pregnancy center regarding the services they provide," the group’s director Angela Martin told LifeNews.com.
Currently, the Montgomery County, Maryland, City Council is considering similar legislation.
Montgomery County Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg is behind the new legislation there.
They would be required to tell potential clients that they should go elsewhere for medical advice because Trachtenberg claims they are misleading women.
Her measure makes them tell clients the pregnancy center isn’t intended as "medical advice or to establish a doctor patient relationship" and that they should consult with a health care provider before making a decision about an abortion.
"It’s pretty much just a consumer protection measure more than anything else," Trachtenberg said, according to the Examiner. "We’re not saying they can’t seek clients and they can’t counsel them."
Her measure has the backing of five other county council members.
Baltimore has four pregnancy resource centers that operate within city limits. The centers offer free resources for women facing unplanned pregnancies and women facing the challenge of raising young children amidst poverty.
The centers offer a variety of services, including parenting classes, sonograms, baby bottles, formula, pre-natal care, diapers and more without cost to any client.
A similar bill (SB 690/HB 1146) was introduced in the General Assembly in 2008 and would have required that pro-life pregnancy centers say to their clients that they don’t do abortions and give out incorrect information on how abortions hurt women.
Related web sites:
Maryland Right to Life – https://www.mdrtl.org
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