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Letter Writing Sunday #3 – Regulate “Crisis Pregnancy Centers”

Posted in Editorials on January 16th, 2011

Crisis pregnancy centers claim they exist to provide alternatives to abortion. At best, they can provide an adoption referral or offer a teddy bear and a few packs of diapers and formula for a pregnant woman too poor to afford them. At worst, they lie to make women think they aren’t as far along as they are – so they can run out the clock on how much time a woman has before she cannot have an abortion. Abortions get more expensive as time goes on, and it becomes more difficult to find a provider. They spread other misinformation like claiming there is a link between abortion and breast cancer, or that it often causes infertility or mental health problems.

If these organizations exist to convince people to “choose life” why would they advertise themselves to confuse people into thinking that they are an abortion provider? Many call themselves “clinics” when there are no doctors or nurses on staff, and some will list their centers under “Abortion Services” in the telephone book. Several states and local governments have passed ordinances like the agreement reached in New York, where centers are obligated to inform clients that the center does not provide abortion or birth control, that it is not a licensed medical facility, and that the pregnancy tests it provides are over-the-counter. Other centers have been forced to do the same via court order.

H.R. 5652, the Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Services Act would put an end to these unfair practices. It’s sponsored by New York’s Carolyn Maloney and has 36 co-sponsors.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the bill:

Requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to: (1) promulgate rules prohibiting, as unfair and deceptive acts or practices, persons from advertising with the intent to deceptively create the impression that such persons provide abortion services if such persons do not provide such services; and (2) enforce violations of such rules as unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.

I will be sending the following letter to my Congressional Representative and both of my Senators. It is modified from the one at womensrights.change.org.

I am writing to you today to urge you to support H.R. 5652, the Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Services Act. Crisis Pregnancy Centers often pass themselves off as comprehensive reproductive health clinics, when in reality they refuse to offer abortion or birth control services, information, or referrals, tricking women into entering an agenda-driven, anti-choice center.

Women are subjected to false information and guilt-tripping about considering their full range of reproductive health options — 87% of CPCs, or “fake clinics,” lie or mislead about health impacts of abortion and birth control, according to Henry Waxman’s Congressional report.

Although some states and municipalities have truth-in-advertising requirements that CPCs put up signs telling women they don’t provide abortion or birth control information, so nobody can be tricked into entering, we need national legislation to solve this problem. Please take action on this important matter.

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