New York Daily News: Judge blocks enforcement of law making pregnancy centers from having to disclose services
By Erin Einhorn and Scott Shifrel
July 14, 2011
Original available here
A federal judge Wednesday temporarily blocked a city law aimed at unmasking anti-abortion centers that pose as full-service health clinics for pregnant women.
The law, which would force the offices to put up a sign saying whether they perform abortions, was slated to go into effect Thursday.
But in his decision, Manhattan Federal Judge William Pauley ruled that it would likely restrict the centers' freedom of speech and is constitutionally vague.
"The risk of discriminatory enforcement is high," Pauley wrote of the law.
The judge suggested that regulating ultrasound technicians would be a more effective way to "curb any manipulative use."
Chris Slattery, founder of anti-abortion group 12 Frontline Pregnancy Centers, had sued the city over the law, arguing it violated their First Amendment rights.
"This is a slap at the mayor, City Council President Christine Quinn and all the council members who voted for this law," Slattery said.
"We are completely thrilled that we have been vindicated of our First Amendment rights."
The city has the right to appeal Pauley's decision or bring a full case before the court.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn yesterday called the judge's decision "deeply disappointing" and a "disservice to women."
"Today's decision means that pregnancy service centers can continue deceiving women who seek their services," she said.
Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, who sponsored the law, also said the judge got it wrong.
"I'm disappointed but not discouraged," she said. "We will persevere in our efforts to protect women from these dangerous and deceptive practices and appeal."