Court Decision Protects Free Speech Rights of Pro-Life Centers in Baltimore

In a ruling seven years in the making, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the city of Baltimore to “lay down the arms of compelled speech” it had taken up against pro-life pregnancy centers, once and for all, last Friday.

The decision upholds a series of previous rulings in favor of Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, the named plaintiff who challenged a 2009 city ordinance that forced the city’s Christian nonprofit pregnancy centers to post signage in their waiting rooms saying they do not offer or refer for abortions.

City politicians will no longer be able to abuse their power to silence those with differing messages.

Now, rather than strong-arming their opponents, they must—in the words of the court—“wield only the tools of persuasion” in their effort to appease Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and others in the abortion lobby who backed the law from its inception to its recent demise at the 4th Circuit.

At least 10 pregnancy help centers in the city of Baltimore are being spared the city’s “weaponized” attack on their work—including Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, which opened its fifth location in May 2017, right next door to a Planned Parenthood.

A legal process that has played out since early 2010 has failed to establish even one instance of pregnancy centers deceiving or misleading women into their offices, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote in the ruling.

“After seven years of litigation and a 1,295-page record before us, the city does not identify a single example of a woman who entered the Greater Baltimore Center’s waiting room under the misimpression that she could obtain an abortion there,” Wilkinson, a Ronald Reagan appointee, wrote.

With pregnancy centers awaiting the Supreme Court’s say on a 2015 California law that forces state-licensed pro-life medical clinics to tell women where and how to get taxpayer-funded abortions, the 4th Circuit’s ruling could play into a number of state and local efforts to curb life-saving alternatives to abortion.

>>> Judge Halts California Law Forcing Pro-Lifers to Advertise Abortions

As Wilkinson pointed out in his decision, the Baltimore and California cases are distinct from one another because of the actual wording of their respective mandates, as well as the nature of clinic licensure in each state.

However, both laws are the result of a hostile effort to silence one side of the debate. That’s why both—as well as those in Hawaii, Illinois, New York City, and Hartford (Connecticut)—run afoul of the First Amendment and could be struck down in the long run.

“A speech edict aimed directly at those pregnancy clinics that do not provide or refer for abortions is neither viewpoint nor content neutral,” Wilkinson wrote. “We do not begrudge the city its viewpoint. But neither may the city disfavor only those who disagree.”

Abortion Fans Neck-Deep in Science Denial

While the decision likely marks the end of the road for Baltimore’s attack on pregnancy centers, it’s also just one of a recent flurry of failed hit jobs from abortion advocates aimed at alternatives to their only solution in an unexpected pregnancy.

In addition to the more significant loss in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, abortion crusaders have recently been dealt two stunning defeats in their all-out war on pro-life centers.

In December 2017, the California Board of Registered Nursing cleared a path for Heartbeat International—a worldwide network of over 2,400 pregnancy help locations, which includes Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns—to educate U.S. nurses on a life-saving intervention known as Abortion Pill Reversal.

>>> Big Victory for Abortion Pill Reversal Training in California

The decision from California’s nursing board came at the tail end of a nearly two-year battle sparked and fueled solely by abortion extremists bent on robbing women of the choice to reject a chemical abortion once they’d started the procedure.

Having successfully saved 400 babies and counting—and backed by a provider network of 350 physicians—Abortion Pill Reversal is consistently and relentlessly decried by abortion devotees as “unproven” and “junk science” despite the fact that it’s responsible for rescuing babies like Giselle, born Dec. 1, 2017.

While the abortion-only ideology is clearly pervasive in California politics, the board of nursing withstood heavy pressure from abortion lobbyists and kowtowing lawmakers alike, choosing instead to agree with Heartbeat International’s argument that Abortion Pill Reversal is both science-based and effective—even though it’s unpopular with the left.

A Big Waste of Time

A third strategy now backfiring in real time is abortion zealots’ ongoing effort to smear pregnancy centers with fake clients and fake online reviews.

Former comedienne Lizz Winstead launched the latest wave of vitriol last summer with her so-called “Expose Fake Clinics” campaign. The campaign not only failed, it failed spectacularly.

In Winstead’s opening salvo, a phony rally outside of a life-saving center in Pittsburgh, a man and his son—a toddler whose life had been saved through the center’s work—interrupted Winstead’s snarling crew and forced them to face the fact that his son was there as a result of the center’s ongoing work.

Winstead’s efforts continued to flounder, but she tried to resurrect the project this fall, this time with a special emphasis on ginning up negative pregnancy center reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Yahoo.

Rather predictably—considering 99 percent of pregnancy center clients report a positive experience—the online plank of Winstead’s campaign failed just as spectacularly as its in-person version, with Google removing several dozen fake reviews by late October.

Shades of Winstead’s online crusade continued through late 2017 and into the new year, but Tim Stephens of Extend Web Services—which creates and hosts websites and monitors online ratings for 169 pregnancy centers—said Google has removed hundreds of negative reviews to date, with more reviews coming down every day.

“We’ve finally been able to get Google to take a stand against these slanderous campaigns that are using Google’s own tools to spread false information and attack pregnancy centers,” Stephens said.

“The campaigners thought they were going to lay waste to the online reputations of pro-life organizations, but really the only waste left behind was their own time.”

As the abortion industry continues to spin its wheels in opposition to pro-life efforts, the pregnancy help community continues to celebrate lives saved and families transformed, one woman at a time.

And, should the courts continue to shift the battlefield from government coercion to compassionate persuasion, the pregnancy help community can expect to go on celebrating more and more lives in the coming year.

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Big Victory for Abortion Pill Reversal Training in California

Facing intense political pressure from abortion activists, a major licensing agency stood its ground earlier this month and delivered a major victory for women facing unexpected pregnancies throughout the nation.

In a written letter sent Dec. 19, the California Board of Registered Nursing notified Heartbeat International that it can now grant continuing education units to nurses who study a life-saving process known as Abortion Pill Reversal.

That’s good news for future mothers who change their mind after taking the first pill in a two-step chemical abortion regimen known as mifepristone (RU-486) or “the abortion pill.”

In the past five years, more than 400 mothers have successfully rescued their babies through an emergency progesterone treatment that has been used for more than 50 years to prevent miscarriages.

Backed by a network of more than 350 medical providers, the Abortion Pill Reversal hotline—staffed with licensed medical professionals—answers over 50 calls per month from women who want to keep their baby after having started the chemical abortion pill process.

In its letter to Heartbeat, the California Board of Registered Nursing acknowledged that Abortion Pill Reversal is relevant to the practice of nursing and, therefore, eligible for continuing education unit credit.

One mother who rescued her baby via Abortion Pill Reversal in 2013, Rebekah Buell, said she had to travel nearly two hours from her Sacramento-area home to visit a doctor who could help her.

“Because of that physician and the progesterone he prescribed, my son, Zechariah, survived the abortion pill, and he is now a healthy and thriving 4-year-old who I cannot imagine life without,” Buell said.

“When nurses are unable to be trained in the Abortion Pill Reversal protocol, patients in need—like me and my baby—suffer. That’s what makes this decision so important.”

It’s actually the third time the board has approved the same coursework for continuing education units through Heartbeat, which first received approval as a continuing education unit provider in 2012 and began offering credit for education on Abortion Pill Reversal online and at its annual conference shortly thereafter.

Following a 17-month audit, the board confirmed Heartbeat’s ability to offer continuing education unit credit for the coursework in a letter sent July 28, 2017, but then reversed its own decision in a letter sent Sept. 5.

The latest decision allows Heartbeat to immediately resume offering credit for an online course and for a workshop at its 2018 conference titled, “The Latest on Abortion Pill Reversal,” taught by George Delgado—one of two physicians who pioneered the treatment starting in 2007.

Heartbeat President Jor-El Godsey, who had called the board’s decision in September a “naked political attack,” said he was impressed that the board has now placed nursing standards above political pressure.

“Whatever a person’s stance on abortion, knowledge of this critical protocol is too important to withhold from nurses,” Godsey said. “We’re glad that the Board of Nursing acted in the best interest of their noble and caring profession today.”

A Failed Political Hit Job

Along with submitting an immediate appeal in September, Heartbeat placed a public records request that revealed high levels of coordination and influence from prominent abortion lobbyists, including NARAL Pro-Choice America and Rewire.com.

As previously reported at PregnancyHelpNews.com, an activist with Rewire.com, Nicole Knight, teamed up with California State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, to pressure the board into auditing Heartbeat starting in late 2015.

According to emails obtained through Heartbeat’s public records request, Knight and representatives from both NARAL and avowedly pro-abortion University of California San Francisco insisted that board officials take action against Heartbeat and its fellow pro-life pregnancy help groups, Care Net and National Institute of Family and Life Advocates.

Meanwhile, Hill authored legislation to try and disqualify all courses on Abortion Pill Reversal from receiving course credit. Mandating that all courses rely solely upon undefined “generally accepted scientific principles,” the law went into effect in 2016, but ultimately failed to disqualify the training.

After the board notified Heartbeat that it had approved the course this July, Knight reached out to the board on Aug. 14 to verify that it had in fact issued the letter, prompting one high-ranking official to warn fellow administrators, “This issue has the potential to go viral.”

That same day, Spencer Walker, an attorney with the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs—which oversees the Board of Nursing—sent Morris a memo cautioning the board from taking any further action against Heartbeat.

“The concept of abortion pill reversal is clearly science-based, and a registered nurse would likely be involved in the indirect care of a patient seeking abortion pill reversal assistance through education or other means,” Walker wrote.

“Therefore, the board could be exposed to litigation if it prohibits continuing education providers from offering courses in abortion pill reversal.”

Despite Walker’s warning, less than a month later—and three days before Heartbeat received the letter—Rewire.com published a report on the board’s notice preventing Heartbeat from offering continuing education units for any coursework related to Abortion Pill Reversal.

Heartbeat has been a California-approved continuing education unit provider since 2012, opting to go through California because the state’s continuing education units are generally accepted throughout the U.S.

In the past three years, Heartbeat has issued nursing continuing education units to well over 400 nurses.

Why the Fuss Over Abortion Pill Reversal?

Since two doctors—Delgado in California and Matthew Harrison in North Carolina—began implementing the Abortion Pill Reversal protocol in 2007, abortion advocates have almost uniformly denounced and attempted to discredit the effort.

While deriding the protocol as “junk science,” prominent abortion supporters such as University of California San Francisco’s Daniel Grossman routinely argue that only a small number of women who are resorting to a chemical abortion will regret their decision and try to stop the procedure mid-process.

Writing at The Guardian in August, Grossman and a co-author oscillated between both arguments before landing on their central claim—and revealing the underlying reason abortion advocates feel bound to oppose Abortion Pill Reversal:

recent study led by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco found that women seeking abortion had high levels of certainty around their decision as measured by a scale that has been used in other health care settings. In fact, patients seeking abortion were more certain than those making decisions about reconstructive knee surgery or prostate cancer treatment. … At the core of “abortion reversal” is a desire to undermine the high level of decision certainty among people seeking the service.

That “certainty” is not true of all women—a fact that 400-plus mothers have experienced firsthand.

In fact, contrary to the ideologically opposed contingent represented by Grossman, NARAL, and Rewire.com, some doctors who support abortion acknowledge that Abortion Pill Reversal is built upon a sound scientific foundation, even though the research is still in its infancy, with only one peer-reviewed report published in 2012.

Speaking with The New York Times in July, for instance, Yale School of Medicine’s Harvey Kliman said the protocol “makes biological sense,” and went as far as to say he would recommend the treatment to his own daughter.

As Kliman and others have recognized, the Abortion Pill Reversal protocol is really just an innovative use of a proven, decades-old treatment. Just as progesterone has been used to stop a threatened spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), it can be used to stop a threatened induced abortion.

Countering Grossman’s assertion that too few women regret—or are even unsure—of their decision to abort, one abortion practitioner in California, Christine Henneburg, recently called such claims a “cop-out” in an op-ed published by The San Francisco Chronicle.

Henneburg wrote that she and other abortionists “hear all kinds of reasons from patients seeking abortion ‘reversal.’” Incredibly, rather than going on to argue that a woman’s choice to stop her abortion should be celebrated, Henneburg instead suggests that her industry “move away from the language of ‘choice’ and toward a language of ‘trust.’”

With word spreading about Abortion Pill Reversal in many of the nation’s top media sources—including The New York Times and The San Francisco Chronicle—it’s becoming impossible for even the most ardent abortion supporters to justify keeping medical professionals in the dark about the protocol.

Delgado, who co-authored the 2012 report in Annals of Pharmacotherapy, is expected to publish further research in 2018.

“This decision allows us to continue to spread the word that it is possible to reverse the abortion pill,” Delgado said. “It also supports our endeavor to further equip the pro-life medical community to serve as agents of hope to our hotline callers desperately seeking a second chance at life for their unborn.

“The ‘second choice’ we offer women who change their minds after taking mifepristone not only gives their unborn babies a fighting chance, it also provides an avenue for emotional and spiritual healing.”

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