U.S. top court leaves intact New York City pregnancy center rule

A general view of the U.S. Supreme Court building is seen in Washington October 5, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday left intact part of a controversial New York City law that forces crisis pregnancy centers to inform clients whether they have a licensed medical provider on staff.

The court declined to hear an appeal filed by several centers that objected to the 2011 law, which was enacted to prevent women from thinking that crisis care centers aimed at counseling women against abortion are in fact medical facilities offering abortion and other reproductive services.

The nine justices left in place a January ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the provision while striking down other parts of the law.

The appeals court threw out a provision that make centers state whether they provide abortions and other reproductive care and a requirement that the centers tell clients that New York City health officials recommend that pregnant women consult a licensed healthcare provider.

The centers, according to critics, are typically located near hospitals and Planned Parenthood facilities, are staffed by people wearing medical garb and offer ultrasounds but do not provide licensed medical care.

In 2011, five crisis pregnancy centers including the Evergreen Association Inc and the Life Center of New York Inc sued New York City and its officials in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

They said the law was unconstitutionally vague and did not provide enough guidance for anti-abortion groups to know if they were subject to the new rules.

The two consolidated cases are Pregnancy Care Center of New York v. City of New York and Evergreen Association Inc v. City of New York, U.S. Supreme Court, Case No. 13-1504 and 13-1462.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham