State eyes ban on anti-abortion propaganda

A new California bill introduced this week aims to stop crisis pregnancy centers from giving out false information to patients seeking abortions.

Assembly Bill 775, the Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care and Transparency Act, introduced by Assembly members David Chiu, D-San Francisco, and Autumn Burke, D-Los Angeles, strives to ensure that women are empowered to make fully informed decisions and are not misled while trying to exercise their right to choose.

In 2012, an ordinance in San Francisco banned misleading advertising at anti-abortion, or pro-life, pregnancy centers and the act aims to make it a statewide ban. Chiu said that while the state has a rich history of protecting women’s access to preventative, prenatal and reproductive services:

“Unfortunately, a growing and alarming movement is working to mislead women in order to achieve their political ideology.”

The bill would require facilities that provide family planning and pregnancy-related services to inform patients about where and how they can access timely and affordable contraception, abortion, and prenatal care. Under the act, licensed facilities that provide reproductive services would be required to inform patients about available assistance for affordable contraception, abortion, and prenatal care, as well as how to obtain that assistance.

Facilities offering similar services, but do not have a medical license, would be required to disclose that they are not licensed facilities and that they do not have a licensed provider on staff.

Last month, the non-profit pro-choice advocacy group, National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) Pro-Choice California, released their findings follow a year-long undercover investigation into the operations of the state’s crisis pregnancy centers. The advocacy group said the investigation revealed, “a disturbing pattern of medical misinformation and manipulation of women.”

NARAL found that the centers were targeting women seeking abortions with false advertising, misleading women into thinking they were visiting a clinic with comprehensive women’s health facilities, when they were not.

NARAL states that their six undercover investigators went into 45 crisis pregnancy centers in 19 California counties and found that 91 percent of the crisis pregnancy centers they visited said abortion was linked to breast cancer, infertility, miscarriage, or suicide. According to NARAL, those claims are rejected by the medical community.

NARAL states that regardless of the situation, the centers “work specifically to block women from accessing abortion care.” Burke said she believes AB 775 holds licensed facilities accountable for providing quality care and helps women know if the facility is indeed licensed. The bill will be heard by the state Assembly Committee on Health on Tuesday.