Baltimore Abortion Law Faces Off in 4th Circuit Court of Appeals

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on June 24, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Baltimore abortion law requiring faith-based pregnancy centers to post notices saying that they don’t offer abortion referrals is facing heat in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Pro-life supporters are amassing support for the U.S. District Court decision, which ruled the law unconstitutional last January reports The Washington Times.

Earlier this month, a District of Columbia based anti-abortion group filed a brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the hopes of being allowed to submit an amicus curiae brief in the case.

The Baltimore abortion law, passed by the Baltimore City Council in 2009, would have required pregnancy counseling centers to post signs on their doors saying that they do not refer visitors to abortion or birth control, if such centers had such a stance.

The Democrat sponsored law was hotly contested by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Baltimore Edwin F. O'Brien. Subsequently, the law was found to be in violation of the freedom of speech.

The law, on first glance seems confusing. What would be the purpose of requiring anti-abortion pregnancy centers to post such signs?

According to supporters of the law, the signs would provide warning to expectant mothers who could unwittingly seek advice from a pro-life pregnancy center and be discouraged from seeking an abortion. The law carried a fine for offenders of $200 plus $50 for each day of noncompliance.

Pro-choice supporters of the law are calling it a "fairly straightforward truth-in-advertising measure" which places minimal restrictions on the centers. The concern for the supporters of the law was that the faith-based pregnancy centers provided exaggerations of the risks of abortion, in order to coax pregnant mothers away from abortion.

Opponents of the law are saying that these are false representations of what the centers actually do.

The case is currently in the process of appeal before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals but no oral arguments have been scheduled yet.

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