Council passes pregnancy center bill

As expected, the Baltimore City Council on Monday approved a first-in-the-nation law that would require faith-based crisis pregnancy centers to display signs telling prospective clients that they do not provide or refer for abortion or birth control. Sun colleague Julie Scharper has a story in Tuesday's newspaper.

The legislation now awaits the signature of Mayor Sheila Dixon. Dixon, an abortion rights suporter, has not said whether she will sign it. Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien has hinted at a legal challenge should the bill become law.

Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who sponsored the legislation, called the vote "a step towards making sure that women have the information they need to make the right decision for their health and their future."

But abortion opponents say the bill unfairly targets centers that they say provide much-needed assistance to poor women.

"The thing that's most disappointing about it is not the particular signs that are put up or the particular bill itself, but the message that it sends," said Jeffrey D. Meister, the chief lobbyist for Maryland Right to Life.

"This is the first time in the United States that any elected body has chosen to vote to condemn pregnancy centers. Baltimore City has just said, 'We recognize you do great work, but politically we're going to regulate you anyway.' "

Read more at baltimoresun.com.

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