Maryland law slams door on pro-life speech

By Bob Unruh
© 2010 WorldNetDaily

A new law in a Maryland county that apparently intends to shut down the speech of pro-life counselors is being challenged in federal court by apregnancy center that wants to continue offering free advice to mothers-to-be.

The lawsuit was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Maryland over the law adopted in Montgomery County that requires such counseling centers to post conspicuously a sign advising that there is no licensed medical professional on staff and the county health officer thinks women should consult their physicians.

According to the Alliance Defense Fund, which is pursuing the legal action, there are no similar requirements for abortion businesses.

“There is no abortion exception to the First Amendment,” Mark Rienzi, the lead counsel for Centro Tepeyac Women’s Center of Silver Spring and a law professor at Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law said.

“The government cannot create special speech rules just because people want to talk about pregnancy choices. And it certainly cannot target pro-life speakers for special sign requirements and fines while leaving speech by abortion clinics entirely unregulated,” he continued.

“This new regulation violates every core principle of free speech law,” he said.

Officials with Montgomery County, where Ike Leggett is its executive, declined to respond to telephone and e-mail requests for comment.

But ADF explained as the law is worded, it also could require “maternity stores, sidewalk counselors or anyone in a church that talks to pregnant women to ‘conspicuously post’ signs that state that no licensed medical professional is on staff.”

ADF said, “The county council explicitly admitted that the policy’s intent is to regulate pro-life centers because the council disagrees with their past speech about abortion’s risks.”

Fines of more than $20,000 a month are embedded in the law for those who say something they shouldn’t.

“The government’s enforcement of policies against pro-life pregnancy centers and its refusal to apply the same rules to abortion facilities is an unconstitutionally discriminatory practice,” said ADF Legal Counsel Casey Mattox. “These centers are honest, do not profit from their services, treat women with dignity, and offer them real choices. Planned Parenthood and its pro-abortion allies make millions performing abortions on women and girls in crisis, so they are undoubtedly only too happy to see the government engage in this unfair attack.”

To read more, visit: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=156393

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