MONTGOMERY—Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall applauded a recent federal appeals court decision as a victory to protect religious pro-life speech. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of an argument made by Attorney General Marshall and nine other Attorneys General that a Baltimore city ordinance unconstitutionally undermined a pregnancy center’s ability to speak about and offer alternatives to abortion.

“It is unlawful, and simply wrong, for the government to force private organizations to post a message about abortion and birth control services that violate their moral convictions and interferes with their mission to provide aid to women in a manner consistent with their own religious beliefs and concerns,” said Attorney General Marshall.

The coalition of Attorneys General, in supporting the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, argued that the city ordinance unlawfully required it and other centers to post signs informing clients that the facility does not provide or refer for abortions.

The Attorneys General argued the ordinance uses consumer protection as cover to violate the First Amendment. It does so in targeting the non-commercial speech of charitable organizations who wish to communicate sincerely-held religious beliefs about abortion. The Court agreed, writing that Baltimore’s requirement forces “a politically and religiously motivated group to convey a message fundamentally at odds with its core beliefs and mission.”

Alabama joined the brief in April of 2017, along with West Virginia, Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

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