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Defend Pregnancy Centers


The Threat to Pregnancy Resource Centers

A law (Local Law 17) was passed in March 2011 by the New York City Council and signed by the Mayor that singles out pregnancy resource centers for harsh and discriminatory regulation.

In July 2011, a federal District Court judge issued a preliminary injunction, temporarily stopping the implementation of the New York City law that would have subjected pregnancy support centers to burdensome regulations and potentially heavy penalties. The lawsuit is currently before the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.  The pregnancy centers are seeking a final decision striking the law down.

The targets of this bill include a number of crisis pregnancy centers, all of which help pregnant women in need. These agencies offer services to poor expectant mothers who want help in having their baby. They provide spiritual, material and emotional support, and both before and after the babies are born. All provide these services completely free of charge -- and most receive no federal, state, or city tax dollars to support their work.

  • This bill would violate constitutional guarantees of free speech by forcing these agencies to post signs and change the wording of their advertisements to describe what services they don't provide (referrals for abortion and contraception).
  • If the City government isn't satisfied with the wording of these signs, ads and websites, the pregnancy centers can receive heavy fines (up to $2,500), they can be closed down by the police, and their staff can go to jail for six months.
  • No other business or organization in the City has to face such unfair regulations.
  • No other organization can be closed down, or have their staff thrown in jail, merely for failing to post signs.
  • There are far more abortion clinics in the City than pregnancy centers, yet none of them would be required to post signs or advertise the services that they don't provide -- like referrals for adoption, help in nurturing the baby to birth, and support to mothers with newborns.
  • This bill is the product of a national campaign by abortion advocates to shut down pro-life organizations that help pregnant women who are seeking alternatives to abortion. These powerful and influential pro-abortion organizations are enlisting the City Council to show favoritism to their position on abortion, and to silence those who disagree.

The Archdiocese opposed this legislation and supports the lawsuit challenging it.  Note:  Although this bill would affect only the pregnancy resource centers in New York City, everyone in New York State should be aware of it. Pro-abortion leaders have already said that they intend to use this bill as a model for state-wide legislation, so what happens before the City Council could have a negative impact on all of the centers in New York that help pregnant women choose life.

Background of the Bill

A hearing was held before the Women's Issues Committee of the City Council on November 16.

A copy of some of the testimony submitted by the Archdiocese can be downloaded here and here.

For accounts of what happened at that hearing, see here and here

For more information about the pregnancy resource centers in the New York City area, visit the website of the Pregnancy Services Network.

Click here for an extensive report on the good work being done by pregnancy resource centers nationwide.


Edward T. Mechmann, Esq.
Public Policy Coordinator


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