Austin LifeCare v. City of Austin
Description: In 2010, the Austin City Council passed an ordinance specifically to restrict the operations of pro-life centers that help women choose birth but that do not promote abortion. The ordinance required centers such as LifeCare to display multiple signs at the entrance of the center before any staff had a chance to talk to women—signs that state that the center does not provide practices such as abortions. The ordinance imposed severe fines for failure to post the signs. Facing a lawsuit, the city later revised the ordinance, but it continued to require pro-life centers to post negative signs simply because the centers speak to women about pregnancy while the city effectively exempted abortion facilities. Under the ordinance, pro-life centers that don’t offer medical services must post negative signs even if the centers don’t claim they are medical. Pro-life centers like LifeCare that do have part-time, licensed doctors supervising ultrasounds must still post a sign declaring that the facility is not licensed to offer ultrasounds—even though there is no such thing as a facility license to perform ultrasounds, and, therefore, centers cannot obtain such licenses.
Court strikes down Austin, Texas anti-pregnancy care law
“Political allies of abortionists shouldn’t be allowed to use the law as a tool to attack pregnancy care centers, which offer real help and hope to women. As the district court found, Austin’s ordinance was so vague that it allowed the city dangerous latitude in punishing pro-life organizations. Courts around the country have been striking these types of laws down, and this decision joins the growing list.”
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Matt Bowman serves as senior counsel and regulatory practice team leader for Alliance Defending Freedom, where he focuses on the impact of administrative law on religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and family. From 2017 to 2020, Bowman was a senior executive service appointee in the Trump administration, serving the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as Deputy General Counsel, and then in the Office for Civil Rights. Prior to joining HHS, Bowman was an accomplished litigator at ADF for over ten years. Before joining ADF in 2006, Bowman served as a law clerk for Judges Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and Michael A. Chagares, at the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and for Judge John M. Roll at the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. Bowman earned his J.D. summa cum laude and was first in his class at Ave Maria School of Law in 2003. He is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia and Michigan and is admitted to practice at the U.S. Supreme Court and multiple federal appellate and district courts.