In April, 2010, the Austin City Council passed an ordinance targeting Pregnancy Resource Centers (AKA “Crisis Pregnancy Centers”). The Liberty Institute , the Law of Life Project, the Texas Center for the Defense of Life and the Alliance Defense fund have filed a lawsuit on behalf of Austin Life Care and three other centers in Federal Court, citing free speech violations.
Disclaimer: These organizations are joined and supported by Texas Alliance for Life, whose Executive Director, Dr. Joe Pojman is shown in this photo. I’m on the Board of Directors of TAL.
(Seriously? The City of Austin doesn’t believe that it’s obvious to anyone that “Austin Life Care” is not an abortion provider??)
According to an article by “We Are Austin. com” published at the time, the ordinance was aimed at “limited services pregnancy centers,” and could result in fines:
The ordinance says two signs in black and white must read in English and Spanish, that states: “This center does not provide abortions or refer to abortion providers. This center does not provide or refer to providers of U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved birth control drugs and medical devices.”
Each sign must be at least eight and a half by 11 inches and the text must be in a minimum font size of 48 point.
Before the vote, council members questioned how the ordinance will be enforced. The city’s legal team said Austin police will not enforce it, no one will be arrested for not posting the sign, and that enforcement will be complaint-based only. Pregnancy centers that do violate the ordinance, however, can face a fine of $250 for the first offense, $350 for a second offense, and at least $450 for a third offense.
Joining Austin Life Care are the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center, the South Austin Pregnancy Resource Center and the Catholic Charities of Central Texas‘ Gabriel Project Life Center. ALC has posted the signs, but the other three haven’t done so.
The ordinance, which is the first of its kind in Texas, requires each PRC to post a sign at its entrance stating it does not provide or refer for abortions or birth control services. Two of the pregnancy centers refer married clients to primary physicians for birth control, and the third center provides information to women about natural family planning and abstinence, two recognized forms of birth control.
There is no requirement forcing abortion facilities to post signs or provide disclaimers stating what services they do not provide for women.