NEW YORK – Christians in New York City are rallying against a proposed bill that they say discriminates against pregnancy centers trying to lower the city's startling abortion rate.
The New York City health department recently revealed that 41 percent of pregnancies in the city ended in abortion in 2009, which is double the national rate.
Crisis Pregnancy Centers across the city offer alternatives to abortion by providing counseling, clothing and material support, and in some cases free ultrasound and prenatal care.
The legislation, known as Bill 371, would require CPCs to post notices on their doors, websites, and advertisements, stating that they do not provide abortions or contraception, and to disclose when a medical provider is not available at the center.
The leader of one of the main opponents of the bill plans to bring a lot of Christians to a New York City Council meeting when the issue is considered this month or next month.
"They are going to get a rude awakening that there are a lot of Christians who are against this attack on life centers," Chris Slattery, director of EMC FrontLine Pregnancy Centers in New York City, told The Christian Post.
"We are going to get an increasing number of Christians out of the pews and into the city council meeting and give them hell."
On Monday night, Christian pastors and black pro-life leaders held a rally protesting the bill at Manhattan Bible Church in the Bronx. The event drew pastors and Christians from across New York City and New Jersey, including those from black and Hispanic congregations.
Pro-life activist Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., spoke against the bill at the rally and highlighted the targeting of the black community for abortion.
New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was scheduled to attend but canceled.
The latest statistics from the NYC health department show that among all the ethnic groups in the city, blacks have the highest abortion rate (60 percent) while Hispanics have the second highest (41.3 percent). The abortion rate for Asians is 22.7 percent and for Whites, it is 20.4 percent.
"There is an ultimate agenda to exterminate the blacks and Hispanics for the purposes of population control and eugenics," said Slattery, who oversees 12 Crisis Pregnancy Centers in New York.
"This is the modern way it's done: by crippling the competition to the abortion clinics, they will increase the black and Hispanic abortion rate."
As a Roman Catholic, Slattery said he believes that abortions are unethical and that the centers he represents also take the same position.
Proponents of the legislation argue that CPCs often post as comprehensive women's health clinics and provide misleading information on abortion such as informing patients that medical risks of abortion include breast cancer, sterility, and "post-abortion syndrome."
Slattery insisted that all the advertising they run is truthful. He said most of the medical risks of abortion that are passed on to expectant mothers are based on scientific studies or in many cases from disclosure forms at abortion clinics.
The legislation, he contended, favors only one side of the abortion debate by forcing pregnancy centers to post up notices while not requiring abortion clinics to disclose any of the side effects of abortion.
"It's a violation of our First Amendment rights to describe what we do," said Slattery. "We run truthful advertising that explains we run free abortion-alternative centers. We think that their facilities are false and misleading because they cover up the side effects."
Penalties for not complying with rules under Bill 371 would result in fines of up to $1,000, a shutdown order for five days after three violations, and jail for up to six months those who do not comply with the shutdown order.
The bill’s primary sponsors are Councilwoman Jessica Lappin and Speaker Christine Quinn. At least 27 members are required to pass the bill which already has 22 co-sponsors.
Opponents of the bill are raising awareness of the bill through a petition drive and phone call campaign.
Slattery said that EMC FrontLine Pregnancy Centers were able to prevent 3,000 abortions in 2010 after counseling some 6,000 women. This year, they are hoping to reach at least 9,000 to 10,000 women across New York City.