Democratic legislation: ‘Crisis pregnancy centers’ must advertise honestly

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 11:37 EDT
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Rep. Carolyn Maloney (Flickr/ Talk Radio News Service)
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Democratic legislators in the House and Senate are trying to pass new legislation ordering so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” to advertise themselves as what they actually are. According to The Hill, lawmakers are concerned that the centers bill themselves as featuring women’s health resources, when in fact they exist to dissuade women from pursuing abortions and to urge them to have babies, either to keep or to give up for adoption.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) is the House sponsor of the Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Services Act, (H.R. 2030), which would make it a crime for CPCs to mislead women about their reproductive options.

“Women shouldn’t be deliberately misled or coerced when they seek legitimate medical services,” Maloney said when introducing the bill on Monday. “While I will defend crisis centers’ First Amendment rights even though I disagree with their view of abortion, those that practice bait-and-switch should be held accountable so that pregnant women are not deceived at an extremely vulnerable time in their lives.”

Planned Parenthood Federation of America warns, “These are fake clinics run by people who are anti-abortion. They have a history of giving women wrong, biased information to scare them into not having abortions.”

In addition, said PPFA:

These centers

  • may not give you complete and correct information about all your options  abortion, adoption, and parenting
  • may try to frighten you with misleading films and pictures to keep you from choosing abortion
  • may lie to you about the medical and emotional effects of abortion
  • may tell you that you are not pregnant even if you are. This may fool you into continuing your pregnancy without knowing it. If your decision is delayed, it could make abortion more risky. It could also keep you from getting early prenatal care.
  • may discourage you from using certain methods of birth control that are very safe and effective

Maloney’s bill, which has 12 co-sponsors in the House, all Democrats, would give the Federal Trade Commission the ability to regulate CPCs and evaluate their claims versus the services they offer, just as the agency would for any other business.

Ilyse Hogue of NARAL Pro-Choice America said to The Hill that she is “thrilled that Rep. Maloney is acting to hold these fake ‘clinics’ accountable.”

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)  introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

“No one should ever be subjected to misleading information when they are seeking health care, especially during pregnancy,” Menendez said from the Senate floor. “We have worked too hard to expand the availability of women’s health care services to have any confusion created by those who would deliberately deceive a woman to suit their own purposes.”

A 2006 Congressional investigation led by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) found that federally funded CPCs were providing “false and misleading information” to patients about supposed links between abortion and breast cancer, as well as other mythical physical and mental after-effects of the procedure.

CPCs are currently at least partially taxpayer funded. As nonprofit facilities, they are exempt from virtually all taxes. In Texas, Florida, North Dakota, Missouri, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, CPCs are state funded, with approximately $17 million allotted for the current fiscal year.

[image of Rep. Maloney via Talk Radio News Service's Flickr Photostream]

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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