Austin’s city council on Thursday voted unanimously to become the second city in America to force pregnancy resource centers to post signs saying that they do not provide or refer for abortions or emergency birth control. The other city is Baltimore, Maryland, which passed a similar ordinance last year.
Austin Council Member Bill Spelman proposed the ordinance, along with Council Members Laura Morrison and Mike Martinez.
Pro-abortion lobbyists urged the council to adopt the mandate because they say pregnancy centers should be clear that they only offer assistance helping women to keep their unborn baby, and not to kill them, and that they do not offer birth control.
“Many (centers) are using deceptive and manipulative tactics that prevent women from making fully informed choices about their reproductive health,” said Sarah Cleveland, the executive director of NARAL Pro-choice Texas.
Violators of the law would be cited for a Class C misdemeanor, and face charges of up to $450.
Pro-life advocates, however, are incensed at the new regulation, which they say unfairly targets one type of charitable organization for no apparent reason.
Lori DeVillez, the Executive Director of the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center, told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) in an interview Friday that her organization was taken completely off guard by the new law.
“I’m still surprised at what happened here. We had no idea. There was no warning or information given to us,” she said.
DeVillez responded to pro-abortion critics who have accused pregnancy resource centers of false advertising, saying, “We are as honest as honest can be. We let people know exactly who we are. Anyone who calls, and they’re requesting an abortion, we let them know that that’s not what we do. We’re certainly very up front with what we do.”
The director said that her organization’s mission is simply to provide free resources to pregnant women. “We have a clothing boutique. We partner with medical care in the community so we can get her a good doctor in the community. She’s scared, so she doesn’t know what to do, and we help her with that.”
“We are a pregnancy resource center. That’s what we do. We provide resources for pregnancy. How much clearer can you be? I don’t understand it.”
Jonathan Saenz, director of legislative affairs at Liberty Institute, said, “This pro-abortion, political effort by the City Council and NARAL is an outrageous example of out of control government.”
“Why is the City of Austin so hostile to the needs of pregnant women served by charitable pregnancy centers?”
Liberty Institute also pointed out that “there is no corresponding requirement that abortion facilities post signs about the services they do not provide.”
DeVillez echoed a similar sentiment, saying, “I don’t know of any other group, non-profit or not, that has to put on their building what they don’t do. That doesn’t make any sense.”
Last year, when Baltimore passed its own law about pregnancy resource centers, Care Net President Melinda Delahoyde denounced the law as “nonsensical,” “unwarranted,” and “unconstitutional.”
“It is nonsensical for the Baltimore City Council to undermine local efforts to provide free support to pregnant women in their city, but that’s exactly what they’ve accomplished with this legislation,” said Delahoyde. “It’s particularly alarming when abortions are decreasing nationwide, but increasing in the state of Maryland.”
The Archdiocese of Baltimore is challenging the city’s law with a lawsuit. DeVillez told LSN that her organization has not yet determined what its response to Austin’s new law will be.