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NYC Mayor Bloomberg Unsure Whether Pregnancy Center Bill Signed is Constitutional

Expectant Mother Care / EMC Frontline Filing Federal Lawsuit Monday, March 20th

Contact: Chris Slattery, Founder and President, Expectant Mother Care / EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers, 212-213-4690, 914-224-5773, [email protected]

NEW YORK, March 17, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed Introduction 0-371A on Wednesday, March 16, even after admitting he was unsure whether the bill was constitutional.  The legislation will impose harsh and potentially unconstitutional restrictions on privately funded pregnancy care centers across the five boroughs of New York City.

Similar legislation restricting private pregnancy centers was enacted in Baltimore City in the fall of 2010, but it was struck down by U.S. Federal Judge Marvin J. Garbis on January 28, 2011.  Judge Garbis ruled, "The Court holds that the Ordinance violates the Freedom of Speech Clause of Article I of the Constitution of the United States and is unenforceable. Whether a provider of pregnancy-related services is 'pro-life' or 'pro-choice,' it is for the provider -- not the government -- to decide when and how to discuss abortion and birth-control methods.

An ordinance enacted in Montgomery County Maryland was partially struck down by U.S. Federal Judge Deborah K. Chasnow on Tuesday of this week.  The court issued a temporary injunction preventing the county from enforcing the requirement that pregnancy centers post signage that constitute  vague, government sanctioned speech.  The court will also consider additional arguments before ruling on a part of the law that requires the centers to post that a medical professional is not on staff.

"There is no abortion exception to the First Amendment," said Mark Rienzi, lead counsel for the Montgomery County Maryland Centro Tepeyac Women's Center and a law professor at Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law.  "The court was right to issue this order. The county has no business taking over the walls of pro-life pregnancy centers to tell women to go seek help elsewhere."

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

The most recent Maryland federal court ruling buoyed the hopes of pro-life advocates in New York and across the nation.  "Today, the pro-life movement received both sweet and sour news affecting the speech regulation of pregnancy care centers in New York City.  The sweet news is another victory out of Maryland where a federal judge has struck down the majority of a law regulating pregnancy centers in Montgomery County," stated Chris Slattery, founder and President of Expectant Mother Care / EMC Frontline Pregnancy Care Centers.

"The sour news is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the most oppressive speech regulation bill against pregnancy centers in US history.  Bill 0-371A requires 10 different disclosures in both English and Spanish.  These disclosures are required to be made in person, in advertising, in signage, and on the phone.  These regulations only apply to pro-life pregnancy centers and clearly aim on regulating just one side of pregnancy service providers.  This bill additionally bans reporting to police child molestation, child prostitutions, and child trafficking," continued Mr. Slattery.

The American Center for Law and Justice plans to file suit in federal court on Monday, March 21, 2011 on behalf of Expectant Mother Care and Chris Slattery.  The suit will be based on constitutional challenges of the 1st and 14th amendments and will incorporate the two federal court decisions from the Maryland ordinances.

"The American Center for Law and Justice is geared up and ready to file suit on the unconstitutional Introduction 0-371A.  It is a shame the Mayor himself admitted the law may be unconstitutional.  He has chosen to subject the taxpayers of New York to a lawsuit rather than postpone the signing to determine if the legislation is actually legal and constitutional," commented ACLJ Attorney Tiffany Barrans.

African American leaders across New York and the region are equally concerned and dismayed by Mayor Bloomberg’s signing of Bill 0-371A.

"The obvious collusion of the New York City council and those that advocate the abortion industries interest is clearly seen in the passing of bill 371.  It's also obvious that the sponsors and supporters of this bill feel that the abortion rate among African Americans is not high enough and women who choose to give birth to their babies should have limited resources," said Rev Clenard H. Childress, Jr., Northeast Director of LEARN (www.blackgenocide.org).

Catherine Davis of the National Black Prolife Coalition commented. "As was the case when the law allowed the pursuit of slaves into 'free' territories the abortionists now pursue any baby that escapes its' net through unconstitutional laws similar to that just passed in New York City,  Council Bill 0-371A. New York's Mayor, radical feminists and organizations like Planned Parenthood who style themselves as champions of women clamor for unfettered abortion at all costs, giving woman no choice but to terminate the life of her child. Shame on the City Council. Shame on the Mayor. Shame on New York City," (www.blackprolifecoalition.org).

In closing, Mr. Slattery stated, "For the past 26 years, EMC Frontline has provided real choice for women facing an unplanned pregnancy.  We have provided free sonograms, prenatal care, transitional housing, monetary assistance, and even job training in some cases.  NYC is attempting to say our strategic alliances with 10 medical clinics and doctor's office is inherently deceptive despite state law which allows these very types of alliances and off-site sonograms programs.  We pledge to fight this bill with all means necessary to protect the rights of women and pre-born babies."

Chris Slattery is founder and President of EMC Frontline Pregnancy Care, which operates 12 walk-in centers in New York City (www.emcfrontline.org).  Chris can be reached by phone at (212) 213-4690 or (914) 224-5773 and by email at [email protected].

(A Copy of the Montgomery County Opinion is Available upon Request)