NYC Considers Making “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” Come Clean About Anti-Choice Stance

At some point in your life, you’ve probably seen a billboard which said something like “Pregnant? Scared? Call us!” You may have thought nothing of it, because you weren’t pregnant or even sexually active yet. In New York City, home to over 8 million people, signs like these depict a young, concerned-looking women under the words “Free abortion alternatives.” They advertise the 12 various E.M.C. FrontLine Pregnancy Centers around the city which are “crisis pregnancy centers”; the city also has four other CPCs.

Indeed, they offer “abortion alternatives,” if you could even call them that. “Crisis pregnancy centers” are actually anti-abortion organizations, often run by pro-life groups, and do not actually provide a full range of reproductive health services for women. They sometimes offer sonograms for pregnant women. However, they are not necessarily staffed by licensed medical professionals and do not provide family planning (like birth control pills) or referrals for abortions. “Crisis pregnancy centers” have also been known to repeat the rumor that abortion causes breast cancer, which has been debunked by the National Cancer Institute, to show women graphic photographs of aborted fetuses, and tell them things like “God will never forgive you.” The HBO documentary “12 & Delaware,” which aired August 2, went inside a “crisis pregnancy center” in Fort Pierce, Florida, where the anti-abortion protester who runs the place candidly tells the filmmakers she will say just about anything to a pregnant woman if it stops her from terminating a pregnancy.

Fed up with the deceptive tactics of “crisis pregnancy centers,” two female NYC Council members are proposing legislation to hold the organizations accountable.

In NYC, City Council speaker Christine Quinn and Councilwomen Jessica Lappin are proposing legislation this morning to require “crisis pregnancy centers” to be clear with their customers. The legislation dictates that CPCs must:

  • post signs at the entrance and waiting rooms that it does not provide abortions or contraceptives
  • post signs if there are no medical professionals on staff

“I think they are deceiving women purposely,” Speaker Quinn told The New York Times. “But even if you yielded that they weren’t, given how potent the emotions, the politics, isn’t it just smart for us to know who provides what and who doesn’t?”

New York City is not the only place fixin’ to hold CPCs accountable: Baltimore, Maryland, passed similar legislation regulating CPCs in late 2009 and were then sued by the Archdiocese of Baltimore for allegedly violating the church members’ freedom of speech and religion. Washington State is also considering regulation of CPCs.

The CPCs in New York City are already mounting complaints about the proposed legislation. E.M.C. FrontLine Pregnancy Centers says its website is very clear that the organization is “fighting for life” — which is true — and that it is Planned Parenthood which should be regulated instead. E.M.C.’s president told the Times, “Why don’t we have on Planned Parenthood’s door ‘No pro-life counseling, only pro-abortion counseling’ — O.K.? Let’s just have a level playing field.”

“Pro-abortion counseling”? Spoken like someone who truly believes anyone is pro-abortion.

[NY Times]
[National Abortion Federation: Crisis Pregnancy Centers]
[HBO: “12 & Delaware”]