A group of pro-life pregnancy centers in Baltimore will be given $1.1 million in legal expenses after they sued and won a case involving a city law that infringed their First Amendment rights.
The Baltimore spending board approved the payment to the Center for Pregnancy Concerns last week, according to The Baltimore Sun newspaper.
The law would have forced crisis pregnancy centers – which provide free testing and assistance – to post signs saying they don’t offer abortions. The Center for Pregnancy Concerns sued and won at every level, including at the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled the law violated the First Amendment rights of the centers. The Supreme Court did not take the case, although it sided in a similar case with California pro-life pregnancy centers.
Thomas Schetelich, chairman of the pregnancy center’s board of directors, told the newspaper he would have preferred that the city stopped appealing. Baltimore was the first city to pass such a law.
“I am enormously disappointed that there would be this level of litigation over what we thought was a very clear violation of the First Amendment,” he said. “We have no joy that we’ve won this case. We have no joy that we had to litigate this for nine years.”
Because the pregnancy centers won the case, they were entitled to reimbursements. The Board of Estimates voted 4-1 to reimburse the pregnancy centers, according to The Baltimore Sun. City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young was the lone “no” vote, saying it was “in poor taste” for the crisis pregnancy centers to want reimbursement “knowing that Baltimore is a poor city.”
The payout, though, was “a considerable discount” compared to what the pregnancy centers were due, according to city documents cited by the newspaper.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Bonnie Kittle