Emails reveal NARAL's plan to shut down crisis pregnancy centers
by Daniel James Devine
Posted 1/14/15, 03:05 pm
Abortion activists are on a campaign against pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in Maryland, and newly uncovered emails show they are advising county officials on how to steer women away from pro-life assistance.
A freedom of information request turned up emails between Montgomery County, Md., council members and employees of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, a pro-abortion lobbyist organization based in Silver Spring. The emails, published by LifeSiteNews on Tuesday, show a pro-abortion strategy against pro-life centers that could potentially be implemented in other jurisdictions.
The correspondence reveals NARAL advised the Montgomery County Council regarding a statute it passed in 2010 requiring crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to announce they had no doctor on staff. After a judge struck down that statute as unconstitutional last March, NARAL offered the council alternative recommendations for continuing to use its legal authority to shut down CPCs or deter women from visiting them.
In a letter dated March 14, 2014, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland gave the following seven recommendations to council members:
- “Deny funding to CPCs” by denying them county contracts.
- “Amend internal referral procedures.” NARAL recommends the county “strikes any all mention of [CPCs] from its materials, lists, website, etc. and creates a rule that no agency or officials shall refer [women] to [CPCs] for any purposes.”
- “Create a public awareness campaign,” which could include publishing the names of pregnancy centers that do not have doctors on staff.
- Establish a statute governing how CPCs can advertise.
- “Prosecute centers for consumer protection violations.”
- “Regulate ultrasound practices,” perhaps by requiring ultrasounds to be performed under the “guidance of medical personnel.”
- Create a legal recourse for women to collect monetary damages from CPCs.
NARAL’s letter also suggested it was less concerned about medical standards and more concerned about the pro-life message. “It does not matter if CPCs hire doctors or house state-of-the-art equipment: they are still manipulating women with lies and misleading information.”
Neil Greenberger, the county council’s legislative information officer, told me the council does not currently have any rules specifically governing CPCs, and said he wasn’t aware of any council members planning to propose regulations. “I have not heard it on anyone’s radar, to take any action on it,” he said, adding the council gets legislative recommendations frequently. “A lot of times people will come up with an issue and try to advocate about it.”
Jodi Finkelstein, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, did not immediately return a call requesting comment.
NARAL’s Maryland affiliate has a history of conflict with crisis pregnancy centers in the state. It conducted “investigations” of CPCs in 2002 and 2008, claiming the centers used “false and misleading information, biased and manipulative counseling, and delay tactics to deter and prevent women from exercising their right to choose.”
In 2010, the Montgomery County Council passed a statute requiring CPCs without medical professionals on duty to place a sign in their waiting area stating the center “does not have a licensed medical professional on staff” and that “the Montgomery County Health Officer encourages women who are or may be pregnant to consult with a licensed health care provider.”
Centro Tepeyac Women’s Center, a CPC in Silver Spring, sued to stop the ordinance. A U.S. District Court struck down the law last March. District Judge Deborah Chasanow wrote in her ruling that “the critical flaw for the county is the lack of any evidence that the practices of [CPCs] are causing pregnant women to be misinformed” in a way that negatively affects their health.
After losing their case, the county was forced to pay $375,000 in legal fees and damages to Centro Tepeyac and its attorneys.