Last Friday, a three-judge panel of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments to determine the constitutionality of ordinances in Baltimore and Montgomery County, Maryland requiring crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to post signs indicating what types of services they provide. The signs must state whether the CPCs provide abortion and contraceptive services, as well as maternity and prenatal care, infant supplies, and adoption services.

Clifford Royalty, an attorney for Montgomery County, stated, “It’s strictly a disclosure in the nature of a consumer protection measure. It’s not triggered by anyone’s point of view on abortion.”

Baltimore, Montgomery Country, and Austin, Texas are the first three localities in the United States to pass Truth in Advertising legislation. In July, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a bill that would regulate the misleading advertising practices of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) nationwide.

Currently, there are an estimated 3,500 CPCs nationwide, most of which are affiliated with one or more national umbrella organizations. CPCs pose as legitimate health centers and offer “free” pregnancy tests. Some CPCs coerce and intimidate women out of considering abortion as an option, and prevent women from receiving neutral and comprehensive medical advice. These clinics are typically run by anti-abortion volunteers who are not licensed medical professionals.

National Partnership for Women and Families 3/26/12; Baltimore Sun 3/23/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 1/11/12