We have written previously about “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs). CPCs often make themselves seem like reputable clinics but then mislead, lie, “coerce and intimidate women out of considering abortion as an option, and prevent women from receiving neutral and comprehensive medical advice” in order to further their anti-choice agenda. In New York City, Local Law 17 “would have required emergency-pregnancy centers to disclose whether or not they perform abortions or give access to them; disclose if they have a medical professional on the premises; and say if emergency contraception and prenatal services are offered.” If New York City CPCs were forced to openly acknowledge and post the truth about the services and information their organization does and does not provide, women would be able to truly assess if the center could meet their needs as opposed to being misled and coerced into believing the CPC provides comprehensive options. However, on July 13th a federal judge barred New York City from implementing the law despite the fact that it had passed the City Council and had been approved by the mayor.
The judge argued that the law could unconstitutionally limit free speech and that since the law “relates to the provision of emergency contraception and abortion — among the most controversial issues in our public discourse — the risk of discriminatory enforcement is high.” This is despite the fact that the law only intended to provide consumers with truthful information and to force CPCs to be up front about what services they do and do not provide. This legislation is clearly necessary considering a recent NARAL Pro-Choice New York report “found crisis pregnancy centers using deceptive tactics and false claims to dissuade women from having abortions.”
Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, responded to the judge’s issuance of the injunction in the New York Times, stating, “In issuing this injunction, the court has failed to protect pregnant women in an extremely vulnerable time in their lives.” However, despite the judge’s disappointing decision, there is still hope for the law. Councilwoman Jessica S. Lappin, the law’s chief sponsor, said that “the judge got it wrong” and that the city plans to appeal the injunction. She stated that Local Law 17 “…is an important measure to protect women from dangerous and deceptive practices, and we’re not going to give up. We’re going to keep fighting.”
To find out more about the truth behind CPCs and why legislation like Local Law 17 in New York City is so important, click here [PDF].