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Maryland Officials Collude With Pro-Choice Group To Shut Down Pregnancy Centers

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Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter
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Maryland county officials confirmed Wednesday they worked with a national pro-choice organization to shut down law-abiding pro-life pregnancy centers in the state, after an email exchange was published.

NARAL Maryland President Jodi Finkelstein emailed Montgomery County’s council president a list of seven strategies the county could employ against local crisis pregnancy centers, and the president, George Leventhal, acted on those suggestions, emails obtained by Life Site News show.

“The clinics advertise that they are assisting vulnerable women in a time of need to consider all of their options, when in fact their purpose is to persuade women not to terminate their pregnancies,” Leventhal told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “And that is deceptive.”

Finkelstein sent the list to Leventhal in March after a judge ruled against a new county law requiring pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to post a warning sign if they don’t employ medical staff. “It is our hope that the Montgomery County Council will once again partner with us to ensure Montgomery County citizens are aware of the misleading tactics used by crisis pregnancy centers,” she wrote in the email.

She expressed consternation that “fake clinics” continue to “evolve,” and are rapidly acquiring medical staff and equipment, so that NARAL’s past strategy of encouraging medical-staff disclosure rules now “often backfires.”

And such rules only encourage centers toward “medicalization,” which makes them hard to distinguish from “legitimate health centers,” she wrote.

Finkelstein advised the council to drop the legal case against the pregnancy centers and pursue other strategies, such as finding creative ways to defund the centers, banning health officials or clinics associated with the government from referring anyone to those pregnancy centers and striking their names from all government materials.

In response, Leventhal directed a state official to find out whether those pregnancy centers are funded by the county, as well as when and how women are referred to those centers. He also promised to have one of his staffers investigate federal ultrasound regulations that could potentially be used against the centers.

“While I agree these centers are deceptive,” Leventhal wrote in the email. “They are clearly very artful at devising strategies to avoid violating the law.”

And given a U.S. district court ruling upholding the ban on the county’s statute requiring the pregnancy centers to post certain signs, Leventhal said the council would not pursue NARAL’s suggested “truth-in-advertising” strategy.

Leventhal told The Daily Caller News Foundation he was simply responding to a constituent’s email, and the county is no longer fighting the issue. “I try to respond to all emails from my constituents,” he said. “I really don’t understand what’s news about this.”

But he stood by his stance that the pro-life centers are misleading, and are distinctly a problem for vulnerable pregnant women, who would otherwise receive unbiased assistance and medical help. He rejected the idea that “legitimate” clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, would ever try to convince a woman to have an abortion.

“I don’t believe that happens anywhere,” he told TheDCNF.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comment from George Leventhal.

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.