Baltimore City Council OKs Bill to Attack on Pregnancy Centers Over Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
November 24, 2009
Baltimore, MD (LifeNews.com) — The Baltimore City Council last night gave its final approval to a bill that is an attack on pregnancy centers that help women find abortion alternatives. City Council Bill 09-0406 would fine pregnancy centers $150 per day if they don’t post a sign saying they do not provide abortions.
The bill is City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s way of trying to cut back on the number of clients who go to pregnancy centers instead of local abortion businesses.
Following the 12-3 vote, Mayor Sheila Dixon can either sign or veto the measure or allow it to become law without her signature — and she has not said what she will do.
Should Dixon allow the measure to become law, Baltimore will be the first city in the nation to target pregnancy centers in what could become a growing phenomenon.
In supporting her bill, she relied on information from Maryland NARAL and Planned Parenthood of Maryland, pro-abortion groups that falsely claim pregnancy centers are misleading women because they give them information about abortion’s risks and dangers.
"It’s a step towards making sure that women have the information they need to make the right decision for their health and their future," Rawlings-Blake claimed according to a Baltimore Sun article.
But Maryland Right to Life legislative director Jeffrey D. Meister says the bill unfairly targets the centers merely because they want to help women find better alternatives.
"The thing that’s most disappointing about it is not the particular signs that are put up or the particular bill itself, but the message that it sends," he said.
Meister added: "This is the first time in the United States that any elected body has chosen to vote to condemn pregnancy centers. Baltimore City has just said, ‘We recognize you do great work, but politically we’re going to regulate you anyway.’"
The bill makes it so the centers would have 10 days to post the sign saying they do not "provide or make referral for abortion or birth-control services" before the fines begin.
Councilman James B. Kraft tried to offer an amendment to the bill requiring abortion centers to post a sign saying they do not provide pregnancy help or services.
"It should not just apply to these four centers," he said, according to the Sun. "But if you hold out yourself as a facility that gives advice to a young woman who finds herself pregnant – whether she wants abortion, comprehensive birth control, prenatal care, postnatal care – there should be a sign saying we do not provide advice on this one option."
Councilman Bernard "Jack" Young, Councilwoman Agnes Welch and Kraft voted against the bill.
Young told the council he visited one of the pregnancy centers and did not see any evidence leading him to believe they misinformed any potential clients.
Meanwhile, Ken Shepherd of NewsBusters, a pro-life media watchdog web site, has been following the Baltimore situation and says the Baltimore Sun newspaper is guilty of shoddy reporting.
"The Baltimore Sun’s Julie Scharper quoted the bill’s author and council president Stephanie Rawlings-Blake … yet Scharper failed to point out to readers that Rawlings-Blake actually voted against an amendment that would also apply her standard to abortion clinics," notes.
The council defeated the amendment from Kraft on a 10-5 vote.
"Scharper failed to note the role Rawlings-Blake played in scuttling Kraft’s amendment written to that effect," he said.
Currently, the Montgomery County, Maryland, City Council is considering similar legislation. Montgomery County Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg is behind the new legislation there.
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