The city of Baltimore passed an ordinance to compel unlicensed pregnancy centers to post notices in English and Spanish that they don’t kill unborn babies or make referrals to clinics that kill babies or provide birth control.
But a federal court just struck it down.
The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled the ordinance unconstitutional — a violation of the First Amendment’s free speech clause.
The amendment also protects the right not to speak. The court contended that the city attempted “to use compelled speech as a weapon to run its ideological foes into the ground.”
From Liberty Counsel, which represented the pregnancy center:
Similarly, Liberty Counsel represents three pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in Southern California, all of which offer women experiencing crisis pregnancies resources, counseling, advice and alternatives to abortion. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, one of four cases brought by crisis pregnancy centers challenging the law as a violation of the First Amendment guarantees of free speech and free exercise of religion. The ruling on the NIFLA case will apply to the other pending cases.
“The Baltimore City Ordinance which forced crisis pregnancy centers to speak a message that goes directly against their religious beliefs and mission to save lives is unconstitutional,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The First Amendment protects the right to speak and the right not to speak. This unbelievable government mandate forced pregnancy help centers and staff to be puppets of the government and channel the state’s abortion message,” said Staver.
Most women know they can obtain abortions. If they walk into a pregnancy center by mistake or inadvertently hear a pro-life message, they may leave. The government has no right to mandate that organizations seeking to save unborn children post notices that they don’t kill them. The court made the right decision. The government mandated that pregnancy centers convey a message contrary to their beliefs and their mission.