The New York State Catholic Conference has released a memorandum of opposition to a bill that “would impose unconstitutional requirements on pregnancy centers in violation of the First Amendment.”
The bill, S.2264 (Senator Hoylman) / A.2352 (Assembly Member Glick), has passed through a Senate Committee and can be voted on by the full Senate at any time. It would force pregnancy centers to disclose to prospective clients the services they do not provide (i.e. abortion), or face stiff penalties.
“Specifically, it would require that a mandatory, government-designed statement be made by pro-life pregnancy centers to disclose to clients the services they do not provide,” the memorandum reads. “It therefore mandates an impermissible form of coerced speech. We urge you to oppose this bill.”
“The legislation also improperly imposes this message only on certain speakers, and thus is an unconstitutional form of viewpoint-based discrimination. The state would never seek to require any other business to immediately — upon first contact — inform clients of the goods or services they do not provide, either orally or in writing. Yet this is what this onerous and discriminatory bill would require for pro-life centers.”
The memo points out that as New York State’s abortion rate is almost twice the national average, “it is clear that pregnant women here are not confronting difficulties in obtaining pregnancy terminations.”
“Anyone who believes in ‘freedom of choice’ should therefore allow pro-life pregnancy centers to carry out their mission of providing other options to women facing unplanned pregnancies.”
“Pro-life pregnancy centers provide valuable services, assisting often frightened and vulnerable pregnant women with alternatives to the abortion procedure,” the memo concudes. “This legislation is an attempt to silence these pro-life voices and shut these centers down. It violates the constitutional guarantee of free speech. We urge you to oppose it.”
The New York State Catholic Conference’s Action Center makes it easy to express your views on this to your state senator and assembly member.