A Los Angeles Times story released on Nov. 24, stated that the Baltimore City Council approved legislation that forces crisis centers to post signs if they won’t provide abortion or birth-control referrals. The mayor has the power to veto the law.
This new law is the first of its kind in the country. Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, sponsored the bill, and she called it a victory for women’s well being. Rawlings-Blake referred to a study by an advocacy group which concluded that women have been traditionally misled at pregnancy centers that provide counseling, food and clothing for pregnant women; but do not offer abortion services.
The Council President said, “It’s a step toward making sure that women have the information they need to make the right decision for their health and their future.”
Maryland Right-to-Life legislative director Jeffrey Meister, disagrees and voiced disappointment about the “message” that the bill sends.( I find it ironic that a man is the director of this group, considering that he has no real knowledge of pregnancy.) Anyway, he said something to the effect that this is the first time an elected body has chosen to condemn pregnancy centers. Sorry, Mr. Meister, but giving women more information about a center’s services is not equivalent to condemning pregnancy centers.
Right now the bill is awaiting a decision by Mayor Sheila Dixon, who does support a woman’s right to choose.
Under the initiative, counseling centers would be required to post signs in English and Spanish stating that they do not provide or make referrals for abortion.
Keiran Havens, vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood of Maryland, which supported the bill, said that these centers will have to put up signs that let women know that any information about birth control and abortions will not be found in those centers.
The director of two pregnancy centers that would be affected said that she was disturbed by the implications in the bill.