Baltimore Judge Hears Arguments in CPC Suit
US District Judge Marvin Garbis heard arguments yesterday from the City of Baltimore to dismiss a suit filed by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore against a recent city law requiring truth in advertising by crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) regarding their services. The suit was filed in March. The law requires CPCs to post signs disclosing that they do not offer referrals for or information about abortion and contraception. The law took effect in January, but was put on hold until December after the suit was filed, according to The Baltimore Sun. The Catholic church runs three crisis pregnancy centers in Baltimore.
Attorneys from the city defended the law during the three hour hearing, arguing that it protects pregnant women from being misled by centers that are opposed to abortion.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Garbis said during the hearing that he believes people should know what services pregnancy centers offer. He compared the law to the recently passed national legislation requiring credit companies to disclose interest information on long-term minimum payment plans.
A similar suit was filed by a CPC against Montgomery County in Maryland in May regarding their disclosure act, which requires CPCs without licensed medical professionals on staff to post a disclaimer that states they do "not have a licensed medical professional on staff" and that the "Montgomery County Health Officer encourages women who are or may be pregnant to consult with a licensed health care provider." Baltimore, Montgomery Country, and Austin, Texas are the first three localities in the United States to pass Truth in Advertising legislation. In July, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a bill that would regulate the misleading advertising practices of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) nationwide.
Media Resources: Baltimore Sun 8/4/10; Feminist Newswire 3/31/10, 4/9/10, 5/27/10, 7/1/10