Austin, Texas Second City to Force Pregnancy Centers to Post Non-Abortion Signs

State   Steven Ertelt   Apr 8, 2010   |   9:00AM    WASHINGTON, DC

Austin, Texas Second City to Force Pregnancy Centers to Post Non-Abortion Signs

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
April 8
, 2010

Austin, TX (LifeNews.com) — The state capital of Texas is now the second city in the nation — following Baltimore, Maryland — to force pregnancy centers to post signs saying they don’t do abortions. Abortion advocates promoted the measure because they are upset such centers provide women with abortion alternatives and pregnancy help.

The goal of the ordinance is to besmirch the work the centers do in helping women because they have taken clients away from abortion businesses.

City council member Bill Spelman proposed the idea and was assisted in promoting the new ordinance by member Laura Morrison, and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez.

The city council voted unanimously 7-0 this morning to approve it and now the four or five pregnancy centers in town will be forced to post the signs.

The vote came despite testimony form pregnancy centers and their supporters — who pointed out that the proposed law does not require abortion centers to inform women that they don’t provide pregnancy assistance.

Under the terms of the ordinance, not posting a sign constitutes a Class C misdemeanor and centers would face fines of up to $450 each time they fail to post the signs.

Jonathan Saenz, director of legislative affairs at Liberty Institute, condemned the vote in an email to LifeNews.com.

“This pro-abortion, political effort by the City Council and NARAL is an outrageous example of out of control government,” he said. “Why is the City of Austin so hostile to the needs of pregnant women served by charitable pregnancy centers?”

Saenz said NARAL pushed the ordinance in Austin as it did in Baltimore and he said court action could be forthcoming in Texas as is the case in Maryland.

He also complained that the law targets pregnancy centers unfairly and doesn’t apply similar standards to abortion centers.

"This ordinance is the first-of-its-kind in Texas, and requires only PRCs to post signs at their entrance that they do not provide or refer for abortions or birth control. There is no corresponding requirement that abortion facilities post signs about the services they do not provide," he said.

The ordinance requires pregnancy centers to prominently display, at the entrance of their office, two black and white signs — one in English and one in Spanish — saying: "This center does not provide abortions or refer to abortion providers. This center does not provide or refer to providers of U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved birth control drugs and medical devices."

Each sign must be at least eight and one-half inches by eleven inches and the text must be in a font size of at least 48 point, the proposal stipulates.

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell must sign the new ordinance into law, but NARAL indicated before the vote it expected him to do so.

Melinda Delahoyde, the president of Care Net, a national network of pregnancy centers, told LifeNews.com that such laws are “nonsensical,” “unwarranted,” and “discriminatory.”

Delahoyde said the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute noted the abortion rate in the U.S. has decreased nine percent since 2000 to 19.4 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age in 2005.

That is thanks in part to pregnancy centers that provide women medical, legal, educational, financial and other support during their pregnancies.

“Pregnancy centers help to reduce abortions by providing free, compassionate support and practical help to women facing unplanned pregnancies. For nearly 30 years, the first center Care Net opened, the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, has been faithfully serving the women of Baltimore," the women’s leader told LifeNews.com.

“In this economy, and with abortion on the rise, wouldn’t it make more sense for the City Council to pass a resolution praising the contribution of pregnancy centers, which rely solely on charitable contributions, not on state or local funding?" she asked.

“Sadly, this sends a message to city residents that local pregnancy centers may not be completely forthcoming about their services. This couldn’t be further from the truth and is an affront to women who rely on their support," she added.

ACTION: Contact the Austin City Council members and Mayor Pro Tem Martinez by going to https://www.ci.austin.tx.us/site/city_hall_portal.htm. Contact Mayor Lee Leffingwell at (512) 974-2250, fax (512) 974-2337, or send an email at https://www.ci.austin.tx.us/connect/email_leeleffingwell.htm

Related web sites:
Liberty Institute – https://www.libertyinstitute.org

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