Who’s Zoomin’ Who? Rules for Crisis Pregnancy Centers Not Ok, But Compelling False Speech in Abortion Care Is?

Jodi Jacobson

The Archdiocese's suit: If requiring "crisis-pregnancy centers" to provide truth-in-advertising is not ok, then why is it ok to force medical professionals to perform and force women to comply with unnecessary and costly counseling and "medical" procedures, waiting periods, and/or outright false information?

There seems to be no end to the double-speak and hypocrisy ladled out by the far right. 

And like a disallusioned individual, the entire far right movement continues to be in complete denial about the contradictions inherent in their actions. 

Take the most recent example of a new suit against a law regulating crisis pregnancy centers.

As Robin reported on Rewire today, the Archdiocese of Baltimore is suing the City of Baltimore to overturn the new law requiring crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to state clearly and publicly that they do not provide abortion or birth control services.

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According to the Baltimore Sun, The Archdiocese “filed a federal lawsuit against the city Monday, saying a first-in-the-nation ordinance regulating pregnancy counseling centers violates the rights of church members to freedom of speech and religion.”

Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien said the law, which took effect in January, “is hurting the good people volunteering and giving so much of their resources to come to the help of pregnant women.” It requires the centers, some of which are supported by the Catholic Church, to post signs stating that they do not refer women for abortion or birth control.

Hmmmm….

First of all, CPCs don’t offer either contraceptive care or abortion care so there shouldn’t be any problem in having them state those realities publicly.  Right?

Second, they not only don’t offer them, they actively mislead people in providing information about them.  It is one thing to say, when asked, “Hey….we don’t offer those services…to get them you have to go to XXX.”  It is another altogether to provide mis-information on both of those services in a purposeful effort to persuade women to accept your own ideological position on what that woman should do about her pregnancy or her efforts to prevent a future pregnancy.  CPCs are built on ideology, not evidence.  You can learn more about them here, here, here, here, here, and here.

But here’s what I find most interesting. The law suit brought by the Archdiocese charges that Baltimore’s CPC law is an infringement of free speech, freedom of religion and requires compelled speech.

Really?  And they are upset about this? 

I find this very, very strange! Because the anti-choice movement in the United States has been whistling while it works assiduously to pass laws in state after state restricting the freedom and compelling the speech–and the actions–of medical doctors, nurses, and clinic personnel in regard to the medically safe, legal procedure called abortion. 

For example, thanks to anti-choicers, both medical professionals and women in states throughout the country are compelled to speak and act by laws perpetuating unnecessary practices and downright false information.  According to the Guttmacher Institute, 17 states now mandate that women be given counseling before an abortion that includes information on at least one of the following: the purported link between abortion and breast cancer (6 states now require this; no proven link), the ability of a fetus to feel pain (9 states; no medical evidence in support of “fetal pain” in the first trimester when almost 90 percent of abortions occur; no evidence of “fetal pain” in the second trimester when 9 percent of abortions occur; “fetal pain” may occur in the 3rd trimester, but late abortions represent 1 percent of all abortions and happen when only in life and death situations), long-term mental health consequences for women of abortion (7 states; no medical or social science evidence to support these claims) or information on the availability of ultrasound (8 states). 

At least 16 states have laws related to ultrasounds, some requiring they be performed and others requiring a woman be told where she can get a free ultrasound.  There is no medical evidence for this practice.

In addition, according to Guttmacher, 24 states require a woman seeking an abortion to wait a specified period of time, usually 24 hours, between when she receives counseling and the procedure is performed.  Six of these states have laws that effectively require the woman make two separate trips to the clinic to obtain the procedure.  There is not only no medical evidence for this action, but in fact, these actions treat women like they’ve had a lobotomy and can’t be trusted to have made the decision about what to do about an unintended and unwanted pregnancy without being forced to “think about it.”  (Hint: We think about it a lot before we go.)  All these laws do is to compel women to spend more money and more time to have a procedure they know they want, and to do so even later than they otherwise might.

So to sum up.  Forcing medical professionals to perform and forcing women to comply with unnecessary and costly counseling and “medical” procedures; forcing women to endure unnecessary waiting periods, and suffer through medically inaccurate and/or outright false information not to mention other restrictions is ok.  Treating women of all ages as juveniles is also ok.

Requiring CPCs to provide accurate truth-in-advertising about the legal services it does not provide to avoid ensnaring women into a system that will lie to them is not ok?

Who’s compelling who?

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