New York law would limit anti-abortion group: judge

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 13, 2011 7:44 PM
New York law would limit anti-abortion group: judge

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York City law forcing non-medical pregnancy centers to disclose what kind of services they offer was frozen on Wednesday by a U.S. judge, who said the law would violate anti-abortion centers free speech rights.

The law, which would have gone into effect on July 14, would have required so-called "pregnancy services centers" to disclose whether they have medical personnel on staff or provide referrals for abortion and emergency contraception.

Such centers offer prenatal care, but are not medically-licensed by the State.

Manhattan federal court judge William Pauley found the City's requirements would have imposed a "direct limitation of speech" and were overly broad.

The lawsuit was brought by groups that oppose abortion, including The Pregnancy Care Center of New York and the Evergreen Life Association.

In court papers, lawyers for the city argued the law was "viewpoint neutral" and was meant to keep pregnant women from being deceived by pregnancy centers posing as medical facilities.

"Certain pregnancy services centers ... have donned the appearance of medical offices in order to attract women who are seeking pregnancy-related medical services so that they can dissuade these women from having abortions," court papers from the city said.

The city said it would fight the decision.

"Today's decision means that pregnancy service centers can continue deceiving women who seek their services," New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn said. "We find today's ruling wholly unacceptable and will continue to fight for this law." (Reporting by Basil Katz, Editing by Cynthia Johnston)