Pregnancy Center Case to Go Before Full Appeals Court

The full U.S. Appeals Court in Richmond, Virginia, agreed to rehear a case involving a law that requires anti-abortion pregnancy centers to post an advisory encouraging their clients to consult with medical professionals.

The court set Dec. 6 for oral arguments in the rehearing, accepting a request by Montgomery County, Maryland, to review a split decision by a three-judge panel.

Centro Tepeyac, a Catholic pregnancy center, sued Montgomery County for requiring posted advisories stating that it didn’t have medical professionals on staff and encouraging women who are or may be pregnant to consult with a licensed health-care provider. The center, based in Silver Spring, Maryland, argued that mandating the advisories violated their right to free speech.

A lower court had said the center must post a statement that it didn’t have medical professionals on staff, while also ruling that the center didn’t need to post a notice advising women to consult a licensed health-care provider. The three-judge appeals panel overturned the lower court’s decision on the staff posting.

‘Legislative Evidence’

“There is substantial legislative evidence that pregnancy centers that are not staffed by licensed medical professionals represent a threat to women’s health,” county officials said in their July 6 request for the rehearing. “The policy issues that underlie this matter are national in scope and call out for fuller consideration by this Court.”

In a similar case, the appeals court on June 27 upheld a lower-court ruling that bars the city of Baltimore from enforcing a 2009 law requiring “limited-service pregnancy centers” to visibly disclose their stance on abortion and birth control. Another case is before a federal appeals court in New York.

The cases are Centro Tepeyac v. Montgomery County, 11-1314, and Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns Inc. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 11-1111, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Richmond); Evergreen Association v. City of New York, 11-2735, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (New York).

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