Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Baltimore City Council passes CPC bill

Baltimore City Council passed the CPC bill (LSPC Disclaimers bill) last night with a vote of 12-3. The bill still must be signed into law by the Mayor of Baltimore.

From our
press release:

NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland Applauds Passage of the Limited-Service Pregnancy Centers Disclaimers Bill

Commonsense provision will require limited service pregnancy centers to disclose the limitations of their services.

Baltimore, MD – Wendy Royalty, Board Chair of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, praised the 12-3 vote by the Baltimore City Council to approve the Limited-Service Pregnancy Centers Disclaimers bill. Introduced by Baltimore City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and co-sponsored by ten other council members, this bill is a common-sense measure that will ensure that women visiting a Baltimore limited service pregnancy center in Baltimore were informed that they will not receive comprehensive birth control or abortion services or referrals.

“These facilities can give the illusion of offering comprehensive services and information about abortion and birth control when in fact they do not provide or refer for these options. It is unfair when these facilities are not up front about the limitations of their services,” stated Royalty.

Limited service pregnancy centers are also known as crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). CPCs are anti-choice organizations that advertise free services to women, the most common being free pregnancy testing, options counseling, and short-term material assistance for women with an unplanned pregnancy. CPCs do not offer or provide abortion or comprehensive birth control services, and often give out false and misleading information in an effort to discourage women from seeking abortion or using contraception.

A broad coalition of health care providers and women's groups supported this measure including Planned Parenthood of Maryland, the Women's Law Center of Maryland, Baltimore NOW, the Maryland Chapter of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Catholics for Choice, Healthcare for the Homeless, Baltimore Healthy Start, Inc., University of Baltimore School of Law Center on Applied Feminism, and numerous physicians, nurses and social workers in the Baltimore community.

“We should all be able to agree with the bill's goals of truth in advertising. Lines are crossed when a CPC is not up front about its services, or when a center uses misinformation,” continued Royalty. NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland investigated three centers in Baltimore, all of which gave misinformation about abortion or birth control and none of which would provide a referral, even for birth control. “Enactment of this bill will empower women by giving them full information up front about what to expect from a limited service pregnancy center. This provision does not ask a facility do provide any services they find objectionable, but only asks them to tell the truth about the nature of their services. We look forward to Mayor Dixon signing this important bill.”

Baltimore City is the first local jurisdiction in the United States to introduce a bill regulating limited service pregnancy centers and the first legislative body in the country to pass a bill.

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