The Missouri House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to a bill this week that would bar local governments from limiting the free speech of pro-life pregnancy centers.
While Missouri cities and counties have not seen a formal effort by abortion activists to control what can be said and advertised by pregnancy centers that do not provide abortions, there is evidence such campaigns are gearing up, said Sam Lee, director of Campaign Life Missouri.
Lee described HB 1357 as “preemptive” action against ordinances that have been put in place in other cities, saying pregnancy centers must post signs near their front entrances advising women that they don’t perform abortions or refer women to facilities that do.
“It is part of an organized effort by NARAL Pro-Choice America, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, NOW and similar organizations to interfere with the speech rights of counselors and staff — and to shut down alternatives to abortion agencies in those cities,” he said, noting lawsuits have been waged over them in Austin, Baltimore, New York City and San Francisco.
Lee said the bill would mirror similar Missouri statutes that preempt local governments from enacting or enforcing laws in the areas of firearms and ammunition, immigration, taxation of cigarettes and tobacco products, telecommunications services, security standards at convenience stores, pesticides and charitable organizations operating fundraising resale shops.
Under Missouri law, the bill would need approval in formal House and Senate votes by May 18 to pass.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read Missouri H.B. 1357.