Four faith-based centers that counsel women with unplanned pregnancies are suing Austin, claiming the city's sign ordinance violates their Constitutional religious and free speech rights.
The federal lawsuits filed Thursday seek to prevent the city from enforcing an ordinance requiring centers to post entrance signs that state they don't offer or refer clients to abortion or birth control services.
The Austin American-Statesman reports that failure to post such a sign is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $450 fine.
Austin LifeCare's director Pam Cobern says the ordinance "is designed to criminally punish" the pregnancy centers "for no other reason than their moral opposition to abortion."
City council members have said the law was only meant to clarify the services centers offer, not penalize them for their views.