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Disclosing information to pregnant women—an established pro-life legal strategy—is now cutting both ways.

Pro-life groups have long fought for laws that require doctors to give women seeking abortions an ultrasound and children to get parental permission for an abortion. In April, Oklahoma passed a bill requiring doctors to conduct a vaginal ultrasound at least one hour before an abortion and explain the results. Nebraska passed a law requiring doctors to evaluate and disclose to patients whether they face risks that could result in physical or mental problems after an abortion.

Now abortion supporters are emphasizing disclosure in their efforts against crisis pregnancy centers. In April, the Austin City Council in Texas passed an ordinance requiring centers that do not offer or refer clients to abortion or birth control services to disclose this on signs posted at their facilities. Violators could be fined up to $450 per offense.

Pro-life groups are crying foul.

"It would be like forcing an abortion facility to say, 'We don't refer to adoption agencies,'" said Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee.

In February, the Montgomery County Council in Maryland approved a regulation that requires pregnancy centers that do not have a licensed medical professional on staff to notify clients by posting a sign in the waiting room.

Pro-life groups say the new disclosure laws are different from informed consent laws requiring that women be given an ultrasound.

"This information is typically provided in one-on-one counseling sessions with patients," said Denise Burke, vice president of legal affairs for Americans United for Life. "There's a big difference between counseling and ...

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June 2010

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