Monday, March 10, 2014

Required Signs In Pregnancy Counseling Centers Held Unconstitutional

In Centro Tepeyac v. Montgomery County, (D MD, March 7, 2014), a Maryland federal district court enjoined the enforcement of a Montgomery County Maryland Resolution that requires each "limited service pregnancy center" to post to post a sign in its waiting room that reads:
(1) “the Center does not have a licensed medical professional on staff”; and (2) “the Montgomery County Health Officer encourages women who are or may be pregnant to consult with a licensed health care provider”.
The court held that the Resolution is a content-based regulation that compels non-commercial speech, and thus triggers strict scrutiny review. It concluded:
The record produced by Defendants is simply insufficient to sustain this regulation of Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights. Assuming arguendo that the County has a compelling interest in positive health outcomes for pregnant women, the critical flaw for the County is the lack of any evidence that the practices of LSPRCs are causing pregnant women to be misinformed which is negatively affecting their health. It does not necessarily follow that misinformation will lead to negative health outcomes.
Alliance Defending Freedom issued a press release announcing the decision.