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Maryland County Colluded with Naral in Efforts Against Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Emails Show


John Burger - published on 01/14/15 - updated on 06/07/17

Official stands behind emails.

A Maryland county official called crisis pregnancies “deceptive” and charged that they are “artful at devising strategies to avoid violating the law."

The comments, made in an email to the head of an abortion rights organization, were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and published by LifeSiteNews.

Dustin Siggins, a reporter for LifeSiteNews, spoke of a “collusive relationship” the Maryland chapter of Naral Pro-Choice America and the Montgomery County Council.

“The relationship concluded in the Council’s effort to discriminate against pro-life pregnancy care clinics,” Siggins said in an email to Aleteia. LifeSiteNews’s reporting, he added, “also outlines NARAL’s 7-step back-up plan to make sure its political enemies across the nation suffer at the hands of government officials.”

Siggins’ article is accomanied by an op-ed from Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn on the work that pro-life clinics provide for desperate women.

Crisis pregnancy centers in the area have been under pressure for almost five years, since Montgomery County passed an ordinance requiring them to post signs saying they do not have doctors`on staff. But Centro Tepeyac Silver Spring Women’s Center challenged the ordinance and eventually prevailed.

Last March, after the law was blocked by a judge for the third time, Naral recommended to the county that it no longer try to defend the statute but adopt a seven-point strategy to fight crisis pregnancy centers in other ways. The seven recommendations included prosecuting volunteers at the centers for “consumer protection violations,” allowing women who claim they were “harmed by limited-service pregnancy centers to collect monetary damages” from women’s centers, and instructing county officials not to refer women to CPCs for ultrasounds or to “very clearly differentiate the centers from legitimate medical providers.”

George Leventhal, Montgomery County Council president, followed up on NARAL’s recommendations in an e-mail March 16, 2014 asking staff to take action. He told [NARAL chapter president, Jodi] Finkelstein he was "copying Uma Ahluwalia, director of the Department of Health and Human Services, on this reply with a request that she let me know whether county funds are currently supporting limited-service pregnancy centers and under what terms and conditions women are referred to such centers."

"While I agree these centers are deceptive," wrote Leventhal, "they are clearly very artful at devising strategies to avoid violating the law."

Asked to comment on the LifeSiteNews article, Levanthal simply wrote in an email to Aleteia, “I do not dispute the content of the emails quoted in the article.”

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