The law, passed by the Montgomery County Council in February 2010, requires pregnancy centers to post a sign in their the waiting rooms saying that the center does not have a licensed medical professional on staff and that "The Montgomery County Health Officer encourages women who are or may be pregnant to consult with a licensed health care provider."
Federal Judge Deborah Chasanow temporarily dismissed the law, writing in her opinion that the plaintiff in Centro Tepeyac v. Montgomery County "demonstrated a likelihood of success on a First Amendment claim."
She wrote that the county's requirement that the signs encourage women to consult with their doctor appears to be unconstitutional.
"The First Amendment prevents the government from compelling people to speak the government's message," said Matt Bowman, a lawyer for the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, which filed the lawsuit. "That message was an attempt to force pregnancy centers to tell women to go somewhere else."
Lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund challenged the law on behalf of Centro Tepeyac, a Silver Spring pregnancy clinic, which does not provide birth control or abortions.
Bowman says the law targets pro-life organizations and infringes upon their First Amendment rights.
Clifford Royalty, chief of the county's Division of Zoning, Land Use and Economic Development who is representing Montgomery County in the case, said the county had a partial victory in that the first half of the sign was deemed constitutional.
He also said the law did not target pro-life centers.
"If you look at the plain language of the law, it clearly is not [directed at pro-life centers]," Royalty said. "The law that was enacted was not directed at anyone based on their views of abortion, clearly."