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03.02.11 - This afternoon, the New York City Council approved legislation that will regulate the deceptive practices of pregnancy counseling centers in the city. The measure requires crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to post signs in their facilities and on their websites disclosing to clients whether they have a licensed medical provider on staff and whether they provide or refer for prenatal care, emergency contraception or abortion. The centers must also post signs informing clients that the New York City Department of Health encourages women who are or may be pregnant to consult with a licensed medical provider. In addition, CPC staff must ensure client confidentiality. Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, issued this statement in response:
"Thanks to the hard work of Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, the New York City Council has made a huge step in protecting women's medical privacy and making sure that women are getting the reproductive services that they want. There's a long documented history of crisis pregnancy centers misleading and manipulating women seeking abortion and contraceptive services. It's about time that these facilities were required to tell the truth."
The Center for Reproductive Rights worked closely with City Councilmembers on the legislation; and as part of its mission, advocates against proposed laws that would limit women's access to information, or force healthcare providers to give their patients misleading information about their health.
Currently, the Center is working with the City of Baltimore on a case around similar legislation passed last year. Late last month, a district court struck the Baltimore ordinance down, citing First Amendment violations. But the Center and the City of Baltimore are currently appealing that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.