The ruling last week in the Baltimore Crisis Pregnancy Center case was the shot heard round the pregnancy center world. Yet lawless, ideological extremists in the Washington State Senate seem hell bent on serving their abortion industry masters and are going ahead with plans to trample the most basic rights of pro-lifers.
On January 28, a federal judge in Maryland struck down a law which the Baltimore City Council passed -- at the behest of the abortion lobby -- that is almost a carbon copy of massively controversial legislation being pushed in the State Legislature right now by the Democrat majority (HB1366/SB5274). Like the Washington bill, the Baltimore bill specifically targeted counseling offices and health care providers that try to help women experiencing unplanned pregnancies not kill their unborn babies.
The legislation put them in a stigmatized special class, and forced them to tell clients and potential clients that they did not provide abortions. The U.S. District Judge, Marvin Garbis, said the ordinance violates the First Amendment and is unenforceable.
He said it amounted to compelled speech and violated the center workers’ free-speech rights.
“Whether a provider of pregnancy-related services is ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice,’ it is for the provider — not the Government — to decide when and how to discuss abortion and birth-control methods,” Garbis wrote. “The Government cannot, consistent with the First Amendment, require a ‘pro-life’ pregnancy-related service center to post a sign as would be required by the Ordinance.”
Under well established First Amendment principles, the “government must abstain from regulating speech when the specific motivation, ideology, or the opinion of the speaker is the rationale for the restriction.” (Rosenberger, 1995). Thus, viewpoint-based discrimination is considered a particularly offensive form of content-based discrimination.Pregnancy center volunteers in Washington were jubilant at the news that a federal court recognized that trying to help the most innocent and vulnerable in society avoid suffering and death should not -- and constitutionally cannot -- result in one being forced to convey a government-mandated message.
Critics of the Democrats' anti-pregnancy center bill had already declared it patently unconstitutional and were jubilant at the news. But those who hoped this ruling would be enough to get Democrats to withdraw HB1366 quietly and try to change the subject apparently underestimated their degree of contempt for constitutional rights and their slavish obedience to the abortion lobby.
Attorney General: Washington Bill "Worse Than Baltimore"
At the Senate Health Committee hearing Tuesday morning, Republican senators took Democrats to task on this issue. The very first question, from Senator Randi Becker (Eatonville), was to the committee staffer on the relevance of the Baltimore ruling. The staffer tried to dodge the issue with the insultingly obtuse remark: "If you're asking what the court would rule on this bill, I couldn't tell you, because the court hasn't ruled on this bill." Thanks, Sherlock.
The second comment was from GOP Sen. Cheryl Pflug. She said that she had spoken to Attorney General Rob McKenna the previous day about this exact issue. McKenna told her that the Maryland ruling -- "which was explicit" -- found that the Baltimore ordinance was "compelled speech", which is forbidden by the First Amendment, and it was "suppression of freedom of expression".
"And in analyzing the proposed bill, the Attorney General gave us permission to quote him ... that this proposal appears to be even more of an infringement than what the City of Baltimore's measure was."
But no self-respecting Washington State Democrat is going to let a small thing like the Constitution or their oath of office stand in their way. There are babies to be killed, and money to be made off them.
Ranker v. Madison
Senator Ranker, the San Juan Democrat who is the prime sponsor of the bill in the Senate, still insisted on ploughing ahead with his lawless stampede on our constitutional rights. Senator Pflug challenged him:
"Senator Ranker, with our $5 billion deficit, since this is certain to be litigated. Where do you suppose we get the money to defend this law?"
Ranker glibly responded that "the Attorney General has a budget. It would come out of that." Pflug ridiculed him by asking in response: "Do you think the Attorney General has a separate revenue stream?"
Ranker also said he thought that out of everything important the government could be spending money on, making sure pro-life pregnancy centers speak and behave exactly how the abortion industry wants them to is one of the very top. He did not, however, mention that according to CPC's own exit surveys, 99.9% of clients would refer their friends!
Of course, we can understand Ranker's position. While James Madison was seeking to defend timeless, transcendent principles that stand as the ultimate bulwark of human liberty, how was he to know that a few young women west of the Cascades would not be able to utter the words: "What services do you provide?"
Finally, voters should remember that people like Ranker love to defend unregulated, unlimited abortion on demand by gassing: "the government has no business being involved women's health care decision" or "it's a private matter between a woman and her doctor". Apparently when you're trying to save an innocent baby's life, however, he wants the state involved in every phone call, every photocopy, every website, and every conversation.
Senator Ranker, please resign.