Austin ruling favors pro-life pregnancy centers

Two legal groups in Texas are applauding a federal judge’s decision to throw out an ordinance in the state capital that unconstitutionally targeted pro-life pregnancy centers.

In 2012 the Austin City Council unanimously passed an ordinance requiring pregnancy resource centers – which don’t offer abortions or refer women to abortion providers – to post signs announcing exactly that. It didn’t take long after that for a pro-life pregnancy center to file suit in federal court against the city council.

Attorney Jeff Mateer of Liberty Institute summarizes the issue. “The city of Austin had passed an ordinance that compelled pregnancy resource centers, and only pro-life pregnancy centers, to post a false and misleading sign about the services that they did not perform,” he says – specifically, abortion and contraceptives.

Yet abortion clinics weren’t required under the ordinance to post signs detailing what services they don’t provide.

But after legal arguments and two years of waiting, Mateer says: “We got a great decision from the federal district court down in Austin, Texas, which declared unconstitutional Austin’s ordinance that severely restricted the free speech and religious liberty rights of pregnancy resource centers.”

Attorney Stephen Casey of the Texas Center for Defense of Life further explains the ruling.

“The judge said it’s unconstitutionally void because it’s too vague and it would lend itself towards arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement,” he tells OneNewsNow. “And what we’ve seen in this case, as in all the other cases across the country, that these are very targeted attacks on pregnancy resource centers. So there is no doubt in my mind that it would have been used in a discriminatory manner.”

The pro-life legal group believes Austin would be wasting money to appeal the judge’s decision.

“One of the city council members, Mike Martinez, said that he hopes that it will go further, but that’s going to take a vote of the city council,” Casey adds. “I would hope that they would recognize that this lawsuit as it is right now stands to use a considerable amount of taxpayer funds on an ordinance that they already knew was unconstitutional before they even passed it.”

Furthermore, courts have struck down as unconstitutional – at least in part – ordinances in New York City and Baltimore, and a similar law has been challenged in San Francisco.

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