On Monday, Baltimore became the first city in the country to require crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to post signs disclosing that they do not offer referrals for or information about abortion and contraception. The Limited Service Pregnancy Center Disclaimers Bill passed by a 12-3 vote of the Baltimore City Council and will now move to the the desk of Mayor Sheila Dixon. WBZ reports that the Mayor is expected to sign the bill, and that it will go into effect 30 days after receiving her signature.
There are an estimated 4,000 CPCs nationwide, most of which are affiliated with one or more national umbrella organizations. CPCs pose as legitimate health centers and offer "free" pregnancy tests and counseling. Some CPCs coerce and intimidate women out of considering abortion as an option, and prevent women from receiving neutral and comprehensive medical advice. Many disseminate false information about both abortion and contraception, and they are typically run by anti-abortion volunteers who are not licensed medical professionals.
City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told the Baltimore Sun that the bill is a "step towards making sure that women have the information they need to make the right decision for their health and their future." Abortion rights activists celebrated the passage of the bill. "It's about time that we have truth in advertising regulations for these fake clinics which too often mislead women," said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Attention now turns to Montgomery County, MD, where a similar "truth in advertising" bill is being considered.
Media Resources: The Baltimore Sun 11/24/2009; Feminist Majority Foundation; WJZ 11/24/2009; Interview with Eleanor Smeal 11/24/2009
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .