Ruling: County's Pregnancy Center Disclaimer Law Violates Free Speech
Appeals court strikes down requirement that Montgomery County anti-abortion pregnancy centers tell patients they don’t “have a licensed medical professional on staff.”
A health regulation requiring anti-abortion pregnancy centers in Montgomery County to provide a disclaimer to patients has been ruled unconstitutional.
Last week, a federal appeals court struck down the requirement that the centers had to tell patients they did not “have a licensed medical professional on staff,” according to federal court records Patch accessed online.
The decision stems from a lawsuit filed in 2010. Centro Tepeyac, a Silver Spring-based nonprofit that provides pregnancy services but does not refer or provide abortions, sued the county, challenging the constitutionality of the resolution shortly after it was adopted by Montgomery County Council. Centro argued the resolution violated their rights to free speech, federal and county court records show.
The Washington Post reported the story last week.
County spokesman Patrick Lacefield reportedly told The Post in an email, “that the county is studying the ruling, and county officials say they are considering whether to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
The free-speech debate is of interest locally.
Though it does not appear to be part of the lawsuit, an anti-abortion pregnancy center was established in Germantown in 2010 in response to the arrival of Dr. LeRoy Carhart, one of the few doctors to openly perform late-term abortions.
Last year, abortion opponents staged a protest outside the school of the Germantown abortion clinic’s landlord’s daughter and distributed fliers of aborted fetuses in the Baltimore neighborhood of the landlord’s parents. In retaliation, the landlord, Todd Stave, mobilized a group of volunteers to call abortion protesters at their homes.