Austin Second City to Consider Truth in Advertising Law for CPCs
Austin, Texas, may soon become the second city in the nation to have a law mandating crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) post signs informing the public about their services. The "truth in advertising" law would require CPCs to post signs at the front door disclosing that they do not offer referrals for or information about abortion and contraception.
Austin City Council Member Bill Spelman, who proposed the ordinance on Friday, told the Statesman that "we are simply requiring limited service pregnancy centers to disclose what is factual and true about the services they offer." Sara Cleveland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas said, "we should all be able to agree with the ordinance's goals of truth in advertising. Lines are crossed when a CPC is not up front about its services, or when a center uses misinformation," reported RH Reality Check.
The ordinance would require the signs to say, "This center does not provide abortions or refer to abortion providers. This center does not provide or refer to providers of U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved birth control drugs and medical devices," be posted in English and Spanish, and be 8 and a half inches by 11 inches. The ordinance will be considered by the city council on Thursday.
Baltimore became the first city to enact such a law in January 2010. The city of Baltimore is currently being sued by the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Archbishop Edwin O'Brien said in the Baltimore Sun that the ordinance violates the CPCs' First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion, and it "is hurting the good people volunteering and giving so much of their resources to come to the help of pregnant women."
Currently, there are an estimated 2,593 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. Some CPCs coerce and intimidate women out of considering abortion as an option, and prevent women from receiving neutral and comprehensive medical advice. These clinics are typically run by anti-abortion volunteers who are not licensed medical professionals.
Media Resources: Feminist Daily Newswire 3/31/10; Statesman 3/2/10; RH Reality Check 3/2/10; Baltimore Sun 3/30/10