.- A federal judge on July 13 temporarily barred New York City from enforcing a new law that would cripple crisis pregnancy centers with heavy fines and possible closures for failing to cite medical limitations.
“Pro-life pregnancy centers, which freely offer real help and hope to women and their preborn children, shouldn’t be punished by political allies of those who make their money aborting babies,” said attorney Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group.
On Wednesday, Judge William H. Pauley III called the new law “offensive to free speech principles” and halted its enactment while a lawsuit filed on behalf of two pregnancy care centers and a maternity home by the Alliance Defense Fund continues.
The law, titled Bill 371-A, was passed in March and backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council speaker Christine C. Quinn.
The measure obligated pregnancy centers to notify women whether the center offered abortions or had licensed medical providers on staff. It also required the centers to encourage women to consult with alternate medical providers. Failure to comply with the law could result in thousands of dollars in fines, shut-down of the centers, or imprisonment.
In contrast, the law did not require abortion or family planning clinics to make any disclosures about abortion alternatives.
“We think this is a resounding defeat of the Gestapo-like tactics of Christine Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg,” Chris Slattery, founder of Expectant Mother Care/EMC FrontLine Pregnancy Centers, told the New York Times.
“This is one of the most important First Amendment decisions in American history, and will very strongly boost pro-life free speech initiatives and protect pregnancy centers not only here in New York, but across America.”
Attorney Matt Bowman said Judge Pauley's decision “keeps the city from enforcing a law that is specifically designed to deter pregnant women from receiving the help they need to make fully informed choices about their pregnancy while this lawsuit goes forward.”
Optimistic about the future of pregnancy centers in city, Bowman noted that Wednesday's order “means that the court is likely to find the ordinance unconstitutional.”
Judge Pauly's suspension of the new law comes as recent statistics show that 41 percent of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion.