Crisis Pregnancy Center Denied Constitutionality Challenge Against San Francisco Ordinance (VIDEO)

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CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS
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A San Francisco ordinance banning "misleading" advertising at pro-life pregnancy centers held up under a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality on Wednesday, making it the first successful measure of its kind in the nation.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Supervisor Malia Cohen introduced the Pregnancy Information Disclosure and Protection Ordinance in 2011 in response to pro-life crisis pregnancy centers that, Herrera and Cohen argued, disguise their anti-abortion mission with false or misleading advertising.

When the law originally passed, First Resort, one of the centers targeted by the ordinance, sued on the guise that the legislation was unconstitutionally vague and that it "burdens [First Resort's] right to free speech, and in particular, its ability to express anti-abortion views to women using its clinic."

However, Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong dismissed the claim.

First Resort came under fire last year for advertising "counseling and medical care for unintended pregnancies" while not making clear its pro-life mission, outlined both in its statement of purpose and on record with the San Francisco Chronicle.

The center's Medical Executive Director Jim Boso told the Chronicle that the center's mission is to "make abortion unnecessary in the Bay Area." However, such a viewpoint is not expressed on the company's website or advertising materials. The center is also one of the first results when "San Francisco abortion" is entered into a search engine.

As Jezebel noted, San Francisco is not the first city to pass such an ordinance. Similar bans have been presented in New York City, Baltimore and Austin. However, San Francisco is the first city to survive its constitutionality challenge in court.

UPDATE: First Response contacted The Huffington Post with the following statement:

First Resort continues to conduct all its work in strict compliance with applicable laws. A year after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed this ordinance targeting pregnancy resource centers, First Resort continues to provide women in San Francisco with free, quality licensed medical and counseling care.

It is heartening and important, as the Court noted, that the San Francisco City Attorney is not attempting to enforce this ordinance against First Resort or allege in court that First Resort has violated the ordinance in any manner.

It is heartening and important, as the Court noted, that the San Francisco City Attorney is not attempting to enforce this ordinance against First Resort or allege in court that First Resort has violated the ordinance in any manner.

In a further positive outcome, the Court refused to dismiss First Resort's claim that the ordinance violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by unfairly favoring one viewpoint over another.

While the court—passing for the first time on this ordinance’s wording—granted the City's motion to dismiss First Resort's claim that the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague, it is important to take note that the court addressed First Resort's vagueness claim by clarifying several dubious passages in the ordinance. The court's interpretations consistently narrow the scope of the ordinance and reduce the dangers of inappropriate application of the ordinance. While a ruling rejecting the City's motion on constitutional grounds may have been preferred, we are pleased that the court is substantially limiting the government’s ability to misuse this ordinance against pregnancy resource centers.

Our legal representatives are working on the appropriate response to the court’s order, addressing the technical concerns the court expressed as to the preemption and other claims.

Around the Web

Crisis pregnancy center - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Crisis Pregnancy Centers of Tucson: pro life and pro life action

National Abortion Federation: Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Crisis Pregnancy Centers - Planned Parenthood

San Francisco Forces Crisis Pregnancy Centers to Tell the Truth

San Francisco Judge Rules That Crisis Pregnancy Centers Cannot Mislead ...

Filed by Robin Wilkey