Minister and pro-life activist Alveda King and other Black leaders held a rally at the Manhattan Bible Church Jan. 10 in protest of a proposed ordinance they say discriminates against pregnancy centers working to lower the city’s birth rates.

Bill 371 would require New York City pregnancy support centers to post disclaimers about their services, and note whether they have licensed medical professionals on staff.

“Bill 371 does not represent a compassionate desire to help women; it represents a greedy desire to shut down the abortion industry’s competition,” King, who is the niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., told MetroCatholic. 

The 59-year-old is the director of the Catholic organization, African American Outreach for Priests for Life, and opposes abortions after having two procedures.

New York abortions are down, she said, and abortion lobbyists want to “penalize those who are helping women who choose to give birth to their babies.”

Rev. Arnold Culbreath of Protecting Black Life, Rev. Clennard Childress of LEARN, Rev. Catherine Davis of Georgia Right to Life, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and others attended the rally.

The New York City Council is still considering the bill, which was proposed last October. Meanwhile, it faces uproar from pro-life advocates, who argue the signage requirement would discourage pregnant women from entering the centers and possibly choosing to have their babies, rather than an abortion.

The measure would force support clinics to post signs at their entrances alerting clients that they don’t make abortion referrals or offer the morning-after pill.

“This bill’s set of unconstitutional laws could cripple our work with its new free speech-strangling regulations of our advertising and outreach with the threats of staggering fines, and probable shutdowns of our offices aimed at crippling our work of ministry to abortion minded clients,” Chris Slattery, founder of New York City’s first pregnancy center told LifeNews.com.

Proponents of the bill say it will force pregnancy support centers to be honest with women.

“Crisis Pregnancy Centers are anti-choice organizations masquerading as legitimate reproductive health care providers,” Joan Malin, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City, said in a statement.

“They are not licensed medical facilities. Instead, their goal is to intentionally deceive and misinform women about their reproductive health options.  They often have misleading names and signage, and set up shop near legitimate reproductive health care providers. Pregnant women who walk into CPCs are not told or informed about the full range of their pregnancy options and methods of birth control.”

Citing reports that African-American women accounted for almost 60 percent of abortions in 2009, King said, “A vote for Bill 371, plain and simple, is a vote for more abortions, especially among Blacks.”

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, then-city council president, sponsored a similar ordinance that was ultimately approved 12-3 by the Baltimore City Council in 2009. Pregnancy centers in Baltimore are required to have signs saying they don’t provide abortions, or face $150 fines.