Friday, October 07, 2011

Suit Challenges Austin, Texas Disclosure Requirement For Pregnancy Center

A lawsuit was filed yesterday in federal district court in Texas on behalf of Austin LifeCare, Inc., a Christian pregnancy counseling center seeking to have an Austin (TX) ordinance requiring disclosures by limited-service pregnancy centers declared unconstitutional. The complaint (full text) in Austin LifeCare, Inc. v. City of Austin, (WD TX, filed 10/6/2011), claims that Austin City Code Chap. 10-9 violates LifeCare’s freedom of speech, assembly and association,and  religion, and denies it equal protection of the laws. The Ordinance provides:
The Owner or Operator of a Limited Service Pregnancy Center shall prominently display, at the entrance of the Center, two black and white signs, one in English and one in Spanish, that state as follows: "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."
LifeCare claims, among other contentions, that the ordinance unconstitutionally compels speech and substantially burdens its ability to serve women in accordance with its sincerely-held religious beliefs. Jubilee Campaign issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit and furnishing additional background.