Weekly guest blogger Matthew Newman, who lives in Maryland, has been keeping tabs on this case for several months. The City of Baltimore enacted an ordinance requiring pro-life pregnancy centers and clinics to post signs stating that they do not perform abortions or provide birth control services. Pro-lifers had a number of issues with this legislation. First, the signs themselves would not be entirely true: while no pregnancy centers perform abortions or distribute prescription contraceptives, many offer classes in Natural Family Planning (NFP), which is a type of birth control. Second, and more importantly, the ordinance was enacted at the behest of pro-abortion groups. Although the ordinance's proponents claimed that they just wanted women to be well-informed, when an amendment was proposed which would require abortion facilities to post what services they don't offer (like baby supplies, parenting classes, and other assistance), it was struck down. The objective was clear: get women away from the free alternatives and into the abortion clinics.
Pro-lifers sued, and the law has been found unconstitutional! Under the First Amendment, a government cannot limit speech based on viewpoint; the judge rightly saw through the pro-abortion rhetoric and ruled that the pregnancy resource centers were being punished for their pro-life stance. The ruling casts doubt on the validity of a similar ordinance in Austin, TX, and on a proposed restriction in New York City.