Maribel Arias was a Mexican immigrant to New York City with few local contacts or friends. After discovering that Arias was pregnant, both her boyfriend and her only nearby relative abandoned her.
"I had no help from anyone," says Arias, who was 28 at the time. "I felt my whole world was coming to an end."
Encouraged by a friend to visit the Expectant Mother Care (EMC) center in the South Bronx, Arias arrived at the center still undecided on whether she would have an abortion.
But after talking with center Director Ishmael Rodriguez, who showed Arias a video about abortion and told her she could stay at a shelter for pregnant women, Arias decided to keep her baby.
"They gave me a lot of moral support," Arias says. "They helped me realize I would survive this."
Despite such success stories, crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) in New York are fighting a pitched battle for survival.
In January, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer subpoenaed reams of documents pertaining to their operating procedures to determine whether the centers have engaged in "false advertising and deceptive business practices" and the unlicensed practice of medicine. The subpoenas covered 24 pregnancy centers and demanded the names of all staff members, their credentials, training materials, promotional information, and all policies relating to client referrals.
The centers mounted an aggressive defense. Attorneys filed petitions in seven New York courts to quash the subpoenas. They argued that the attorney general lacked evidence and was attempting to regulate noncommercial speech and the right to free association, protected under the Constitution. They said that Spitzer's legal actions stem from his close ties with the abortion rights movement.
Their efforts ...1