Contributed by Raquel Namuche, Community Mobilization Intern Britney Spears’ younger sister was recently seen visiting a crisis pregnancy center (CPC) in Mississippi. If you look at the sign of the CPC she visited, it clearly says they offer “non-medical services.” Unfortunately, not all CPCs follow this kind of honesty in advertising. Luckily there are advocates trying to change that.
Enter Maryland, whose General Assembly is currently considering legislation that would require crisis pregnancy centers to accurately inform their clients about their services and intentions. The bill was introduced by Democratic delegate Roger Manno and calls for CPCs to provide their clients with disclaimers that state the CPC is not “required to provide factually accurate information” and that any information provided “is not intended to be medical.” If passed, this bill would hopefully stop the deceitful tactics CPCs use to prevent freedom of choice in the state of Maryland.
A recent investigative report released by NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland Fund exposes some of the disturbing practices of 11 CPCs in Maryland. The report found consistent use of false information, biased counseling, and delay tactics.
CPCs appeal to low-income women by offering free services, some of which can be costly in the private sector, such as ultrasounds. They also often target minority populations and exploit specific vulnerabilities in order to dissuade women from choosing abortion. One investigator, who posed as a Latina immigrant, was told, falsely, that it would be “very, very difficult” for her to obtain an abortion if she was not a legal resident of the U.S.
There are definitely a lot of barriers that prevent immigrant Latinas, especially those who are undocumented, from accessing abortion services, but to question someone’s legal status and use it as a persuasive scare tactic is wrong and illustrates that legislation preventing CPCs from misleading clients must be passed.
Maryland’s General Assembly session ends on April 7, so the bill introduced by Manno still has a chance. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Health and Government Operations committee on March 14. Committee hearings are open to the public. You can go here for directions on how to testify in front of a committee.
Similar legislation has also been introduced in the New York State Assembly.
Contributed by Raquel Namuche, Community Mobilization Intern