City of Austin learns not to bully Pregnancy Resource Centers, forced to pay $480K after illegal discrimination

The city of Austin has learned the hard way that they cannot bully Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) into compliance with an anti-Life agenda.  In 2011, the city attempted to force PRCs to post government-issued signage outside of their facilities which mischaracterized the work and mission of the centers.  The move was a blatant act of anti-Life sentiment on the part of the Austin city council.

The PRCs faced criminal and monetary charges if they refused to comply with the discriminatory ordinance.  The PRCs took legal action against the policy including mandated signage.  The PRCs were represented by the Liberty InstituteTexas Lawyer reports

The plaintiffs in Austin Lifecare v. Austin sued the city, council members and the city manager in federal court in October 2011 over an ordinance that required them to post signs outside their centers, or else face criminal offenses and monetary penalties.

The ordinance applied to an “unlicensed pregnancy service center” that provided medical services such as pregnancy diagnosis and sonograms, yet did not have a full-time, licensed health care provider on site. The center would have to post a sign conspicuously at its entrance to disclose whether it provided medical services, whether they were directed by a licensed health care provider and whether the center had a state or federal license.

In 2014, the city argued that the signage was meant to “avoid having women be confused when they receive medical services from laypeople,” but the real confusion was caused by the signage policy, which did not define the terms they themselves required to be posted on the signs.  At that time, Texas Right to Life reported:

In 2005, Texas Right to Life led the effort to include funding for these PRCs and other Life-affirming social service agencies in our state’s budget.  Texas became the tenth state to fund alternatives to abortion, and that program has since expanded and achieved impressive service results, including Seals of Excellence Awards for non-profit fiscal efficiency.  Due to the success of the Texas alternatives to abortion program and Texas Right to Life’s successful redirection of so-called family planning funds to legitimate health care agencies in 2011, the abortion industry is still reeling and desperate to annihilate any competition in serving women.  The Austin ordinance was a way to accomplish through rule-making what the abortion advocates could not accomplish legislatively.

On August 20, the $480,000 settlement was approved by Austin city council members after mediation.