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2nd Circuit Revives New York’s Crisis Pregnancy Center Law
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A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals restored critical parts of a New York City law for regulating non-medical pregnancy services provided by anti-abortion organizations. The law requires that crisis pregnancy centers must disclose whether the facilities have licensed medical practitioners working there. The court of appeals reversed parts of the judgment of a lower court that had rejected the new law in its entirety.

Even though the 2-1 panel restored the parts of the law requiring the presence of a licensed medical practitioner at crisis pregnancy centers, the panel observed that it was possible that some parts of the law were unconstitutional.

  
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In particular, a requirement that made it mandatory for the centers to disclose whether they provide referrals for prenatal care, emergency contraception, or abortion remains suspect of being unconstitutional.

The court said that the city had the right to compel pregnancy centers to make disclosures about medical providers, as the alternative would be to deprive the city “of its ability to protect the health of its citizens and combat consumer deception in even the most minimal way.”

Judge Rosemary Pooler observed that the lower court judge had erred when holding the entire law to be vague. She wrote that the city had a compelling interest in ensuring that consumers are properly aware of the nature of the services they would be receiving from a pregnancy center. She also pointed out that before passing the law lawmakers had received testimonies of patient experiences, misleading practices, and dangers of poor response time when required to access reproductive care.

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Noting that “Such a law is required to ensure that women have prompt access to the type of care they seek,” Pooler wrote that available testimony proved that pregnancy centers were often located near Planned Parenthood facilities and used misleading names and signage.

In dissent, Judge Richard Wesley said, “The entire statute is irredeemably vague with respect to the definition of a pregnancy services center.”



Summary:

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals restored critical parts of a New York City law that requires that crisis pregnancy centers must disclose whether the facilities have licensed medical practitioners working there. A requirement that made it mandatory for the crisis pregnancy centers to disclose whether they provide referrals for prenatal care, emergency contraception, or abortion remains suspect of being unconstitutional.



 

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