From January to April, the streets of
What was one of the most controversial issues this legislative session? Yup, you guessed it, crisis pregnancy centers. Senator Rich Madaleno and Delegate Roger Manno were friends to the women of
1.) Require crisis pregnancy centers to state that they are not medical clinics.
2.) Require crisis pregnancy centers to tell their clients to see a medical professional about their pregnancy options
3.) Require crisis pregnancy centers to say that they are not required to provide medically accurate information.
Holy cow! Did CPCs around the country go ballistic! Infuriated, they charged that we were trying to shut them down by destroying their credibility. I mean, how DARE we require them to tell clients that they aren’t medical clinics, shouldn’t be confused for doctors, and aren’t required to provide medically accurate information.
I’d like to address their moral indignation in three parts:
1.) You ARE NOT medical clinics.
2.) You ARE NOT medical professionals and are not qualified (or even good at) providing adequate counseling or having an honest discussion about real pregnancy options.
3.) You ARE NOT legally required to provide medically accurate information. Consumer protection laws don’t include free service providers. As long as you don’t charge a fee, YOU ARE LEGALLY ALLOWED TO LIE TO WOMEN.
The bill in no way aimed to shut CPCs down. The bill only required CPCs to be upfront about their qualifications for working with women. Instead of waiting in a CPC, a woman looking for an abortion can move on in the phone book and look for someone who can provide her with a comprehensive discussion about parenting, adoption, and abortion.
NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland Fund’s report on CPCs, “The Truth Revealed,” turned some heads in
The bill received hearings in the Senate Finance Committee and House Health and Governmental Operations Committee. NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland staff, volunteers, and student activists testified at each and received positive reactions from committee leadership and members. Most likely, the testimony that got to them the most was when one volunteer spoke about being locked in a room with a counselor at one center she visited. Or it was the testimony about one CPC that told a volunteer that birth control was dangerous and she should start natural family planning. Or it was the one where the CPC told the volunteer that “birth control is ‘next to aborting your baby.’”
Perhaps MY favorite part about this legislative session is that the anti-choice forces were being pushed around finally. For once, they were the ones having to defend themselves. And it felt pretty great when they got cornered by their lies.
Something anti-choicers have yet to understand – after years and years of lobbying in
While the bill did not make it out of either committee, it’s important to know that it normally takes two or three years to make really good policy and have it passed. With a little more finesse, a little more force, some more coalition building, and encouragement of our legislators, the “Limited Service Pregnancy Center Disclaimer Act” has a real shot in 2009.