March 21, 2011 - A federal judge has told Montgomery County, Maryland it can't force pro life counseling centers to tell clients to seek medical attention elsewhere. Later this week, the board will decide if it will appeal the ruling. For nearly two decades, hundreds of pregnant women, most of them Latinas, have been counseled at the Tepeyac Women’s Center. A 21-year-old, who asked that her name not be used, said she just learned she is pregnant again.
“I’m just grateful to have them here, someone to talk to me and for me not to go through a lot of stuff by myself,” she says.
Tepeyac is a Catholic charity and Director Mariana Vera says the center doesn’t refer clients to abortion clinics.
“What we do is we talk about the options that they have. That includes adoption, parenting and abortion and we know that it’s their decision,” Vera says.
The center sued the county over a law forcing it and similar clinics to post notices saying there were no licensed medical professionals on staff and urging clients to seek medical attention elsewhere. A federal judge ruled that the centers are not required to refer clients to other facilities. Mark Rienzi is Tepeyac’s attorney, “The law in Montgomery County is part of a nationwide trend of regulating the speech of pro life counselors.”
But Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal denies that charge.
“The county council acting as the board of health felt it was important to let these women know that health advice from licensed medical professionals would not be available at these centers. I believe that’s good public health policy,” he says.
The court still has to rule on the legality of the entire ordinance. SOURCE: WAMU