(PRESS RELEASE) The Center for Reproductive Rights and the City of Baltimore filed a petition for a new hearing today before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in their case defending a truth-in-advertising ordinance requiring crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to post modest signs in their waiting rooms indicating that they do not provide or make referrals for abortion or comprehensive birth control services. Following a decision by a divided panel of the appeals court to block enforcement of the ordinance, today’s petition requests the entire Fourth Circuit rehear the case en banc, which would allow all active judges on the circuit court to consider the case.“We wholly disagree with the panel’s decision that crisis pregnancy centers have a First Amendment right to deceive women about the kinds of services they offer,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “This ordinance safeguards women’s ability receive truthful medical information to make fully informed choices about their reproductive health. We are confident the full court will agree and ultimately uphold Baltimore’s ordinance regulating the often-deceptive practices of crisis pregnancy centers in the city.”Crisis pregnancy centers frequently advertise themselves as clinics that provide a full range of reproductive health services, but in practice are non-medical organizations that dissuade women from obtaining abortion and birth control services. In addition to deceptive advertising, some centers provide factually inaccurate information to patients and disregard patient confidentiality.The Center for Reproductive Rights joined the City of Baltimore to defend the ordinance in June 2010 against a lawsuit filed by the Archbishop of Baltimore, a local parish, and the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns seeking to block enforcement of the ordinance. In January 2011, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the CPC and its allies before the city was even able to submit evidence in support of its case, and the City and CRR immediately appealed the ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.Baltimore was the first city in the nation to pass legislation requiring these centers to disclose that they neither referred nor offered abortion services. Others cities including Austin, TX, New York City, and San Francisco have since introduced similar measures to curb the deceptive practices of these centers.
CRR Petitions Federal Appeals Court for New Hearing on Ordinance for CPCs