California’s Democratic-majority assembly passed a bill Tuesday that would require crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to offer pregnant people information about state programs providing reproductive health-care services, including abortion.
AB 775, co-sponsored by Assembly members Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood) and David Chiu (D-San Francisco), would require licensed clinics that offer family planning or pregnancy-related services to provide a notice to customers detailing their reproductive rights.
Known as the Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act, the bill specifically requires CPCs to inform patients that California has public programs providing immediate, free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services, prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women.
CPCs strategically misinform and deceive pregnant people, always with the same underlying message: Bring the pregnancy to term. That, along with other findings, were published by NARAL Pro-Choice California in a March report, which examined common CPC practices.
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CPC workers, according to the report, tell women that going through with an induced abortion is unnecessary, because the chance of a spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage, is 30 to 50 percent. Center workers, most of whom are not medical professionals, often dress in white coats like a physician would.
“We know that reproductive and pregnancy-related care is time sensitive. Our legislation ensures that women receive timely and standard care when seeking services in our state, no matter where they go,” Chiu said last week during a press conference, urging passage of the bill. “With AB 775, all clinics will be held to the same standard, and all patients will have access to clear, timely information about their health care rights.”
Sandra Palacios, associate director for governmental relations for the California Catholic Conference, told Reuters that her organization opposes the legislation and would support litigation to challenge it if signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown (D).
“If I walk into a pro-life center, then I’m trying to figure out what can I do to get some medical help to make sure that my baby is safe and healthy,” Palacios said. “It’s almost like saying that I’m walking into McDonald’s but they’re supposed to put up a notice that says across the street a Burger King or something better is offered.”
The assembly approved the bill with a 49-26 vote.
The bill would require facilities without medical licenses that advertise and provide pregnancy testing and care to post a notice saying they have neither a license nor licensed providers on staff. Many CPCs in California are unlicensed.
CPCs that are not licensed by the state as clinics would not be subject to the same regulations. However, they would be required to disclose they are not licensed medical providers.
The move by the Democratic-controlled legislature to further regulate CPCs is in stark contrast to lawmakers in Republican-controlled state legislatures that have introduced legislation in recent years to allow anti-choice CPCs to operate without regulation or oversight.
Some cities in California have taken steps to curb the influence of CPCs, including San Francisco, where CPCs are prohibited from engaging in false or misleading advertising, and a judge can order the center to post notices saying that they do not offer abortion services or referrals.
The legislation now moves to the Democratic-dominated senate for further consideration.