The XX Factor

Sign of the Times

The Baltimore City Council has passed legislation that would, if enacted, require crisis pregnancy centers to display signs saying that they don’t offer birth control or abortions. This measure is annoying on a number of levels, as the libertarian in me generally supports a business’ or charity’s prerogative to operate according to its own mission and guidelines and beliefs. I mean, it’s a bit like telling a Catholic church it must post a sign saying there are no Torahs or Qurans in the pews: Duh. It’s also insulting to the women who go to these centers: Aren’t they smart enough to figure out pretty quickly what a place has to offer? If they wanted an abortion, wouldn’t they have sought out Planned Parenthood or an abortion clinic?

Also, if you’re really pro- choice , as compared to pro- abortion , shouldn’t you want women to be able to get the help they need to bring their children into the world in a warm and secure environment? Shouldn’t you want to work with and encourage people who are trying to help these women? Laws like this send a message that crisis pregnancy centers are the enemy and set up adversarial relationships between the centers and the cities that so desperately need their services.

But, as much as it pains me to say it, the pro-life movement kind of had this coming. If you want to require doctors to recite statements about abortion that they don’t believe or force them to conduct and “describe” ultrasounds for women seeking abortions (laws in South Dakota and Oklahoma, respectively, that have been struck down), you’re opening yourself up to this kind of restriction. Neither side is going to reduce the number of abortions or unintended pregnancies by telling the other side how to deal with the women who come to them.