After the disappointing news that a New York judge had blocked a city law that was intended to force crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to accurately advertise their services, it’s heartening to see that another city is creating measures to force CPCs to be honest with their clients about the services they provide.
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed a bill which makes it illegal for CPCs to advertise falsely about their pregnancy-related services. Dennis Herrera, the San Francisco city attorney, has also written to First Resort, a local CPC, asking them to correct ads which imply that the center provides abortion services or referrals.
Crisis pregnancy centers are facilities that appear to offer advice to pregnant women about all of their options, including abortion. But once inside, CPC staff use counseling, propaganda, guilt and shame to convince women that having an abortion is unsafe or morally wrong. The centers often rely on false advertising to confuse or mislead women who are simply seeking more information. For example, CPCs often look very much like reproductive health clinics, despite the fact that they do not have medical staff on site, they do not provide abortion access or referrals, and they do not have to follow patient confidentiality regulations.
First Resort, as Jessica Wakeman points out, comes up in a Google search if you type in “San Francisco abortion,” despite the fact that its statement of purpose declares that it is a Christian organization dedicated to an “abortion-free world.” And, as Herrera observed, “nowhere on its website, print advertisements, or in the paid Google advertisement does First Resort state that it does not perform or refer clients for abortion services.”
A few other cities – including Baltimore and Austin – have taken steps to ensure that CPCs cannot deceive women while they are making the decision about how to proceed with their pregnancy. After all, it’s just truth in advertising.
Photo from Dave Fayram via flickr.