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Court blocks New York restrictions on crisis-pregnancy centers

Catholic World News - July 14, 2011

A federal court in New York has blocked implementation of a new city ordinance that would have imposed crippling new restrictions on crisis-pregnancy centers.

In his July 13 decision, Judge William Pauley said that the new rules, scheduled to go into effect the following day, violated freedom of speech by imposing detailed requirements as to how the crisis-pregnancy centers advertised their services. The law would have required the centers to post signs calling attention to the fact that they do not provide abortion referrals, and make similar disclosures in their flyers and advertisements and in conversations with potential clients.

While showing no sympathy for the crisis-pregnancy centers, and suggesting that they were “operating in pseudo-medical settings,” the judge said that the law overstepped the bounds of legitimate government action, and “over-expansiveness is evident from its very language.”

Judge Pauley observed that freedom of speech should be protected especially on questions of public controversy. In this case, he said, because the law “relates to the provision of emergency contraception and abortion—among the most controversial issues in our public discourse—the risk of discriminatory enforcement is high.”

Chris Slattery, the founder of EMC Frontline Pregnancy Care, which runs 12 crisis-pregnancy centers in New York, welcomed the decision as a “resounding victory.” Representatives of New York’s City Council, which had passed the ordinance in March, said that they would appeal the judge’s ruling.

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