Last night the Baltimore City Council became the first in the nation to pass a law that would require pro-life crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to post in writing disclaimers noting that they do not provide abortion services or contraceptives nor refer women to persons or clinics who do.
Reporting the story in the November 24 paper, the Baltimore Sun's Julie Scharper quoted the bill's author and council president Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) heralding the passage of the bill as "a step towards making sure that women have the information they need to make the right decision for their health and their future."
Yet Scharper failed to point out to readers that Rawlings-Blake actually voted against an amendment that would also apply her standard to abortion clinics. Reported George P. Matysek Jr. of The Catholic Review on November 17:
On a 5-10 vote, the council rejected an amendment offered by Councilman James B. Kraft that would have broadened the bill to require abortion clinics to post signs indicating what services they do not provide.
When a woman is facing a decision about abortion, Kraft said, it’s important for her to have access to information about all services – including abortion, adoption, birth control, counseling, financial assistance, postnatal assistance and prenatal services.
“Each place should give her every bit of information it can,” Kraft said.
Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, chief sponsor of the bill, voted against Kraft’s amendment. Despite the fact that there were no amendments offered that would have required abortion providers to post signs saying that they offer abortions, Rawlings-Blake told the council she opposed making abortion clinics post such signs because it could open them up to violence.
“There’s a long history of violence against abortion providers,” she insisted.
Scharper put the dissenting voices on the city council, including Kraft, towards the end of her article, and noted the lament of some of those council members that the regulation didn't cover Planned Parenthood abortion clinics. Yet Scharper failed to note the role Rawlings-Blake played in scuttling Kraft's amendment written to that effect:
Council members who voted against the bill asked why similar demands were not placed on abortion clinics.
"It should not just apply to these four centers," said Councilman James B. Kraft, who tried unsuccessfully last week to broaden the scope of the bill. "But if you hold out yourself as a facility that gives advice to a young woman who finds herself pregnant - whether she wants abortion, comprehensive birth control, prenatal care, postnatal care - there should be a sign saying we do not provide advice on this one option."
Councilman Bernard "Jack" Young, who joined Kraft and Councilwoman Agnes Welch in opposing the bill, said he visited a pregnancy center in his district and did not see evidence that they mislead women.
"I'm a firm believer that what's good for the goose is good for the gander," said Young, who supports abortion only in rape cases.
"If they're going to ask the pregnancy centers to post a notice, they should ask Planned Parenthood, too.