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
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .