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July 15, 2011

NARAL Pro-Choice America Praises Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Services Act

Menendez-Maloney legislation targets so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” that mislead women by advertising services they don’t provide

Washington, DC – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, praised Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.)  for their continued efforts to forward legislation that would give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to protect women from anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) that use deceptive advertising practices.  

Investigations by NARAL Pro-Choice America and its state affiliates, along with a congressional study, have revealed that most CPCs are not regulated and engage in false advertising. CPCs often advertise as if they provide abortion services or counseling, when in fact they are centers created to dissuade women from exercising their right to choose. Under the Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Services Act, which was introduced yesterday, the FTC could penalize organizations that engage in these practices.

“We applaud Rep. Maloney’s and Sen. Menendez' continued leadership in making sure women are not misled about their health-care options,” Keenan said. “It’s time for Congress to step in and hold these fake ‘clinics’ accountable. Even though we may have differences of opinion on abortion, Americans value honesty in advertising. We should all agree that a woman should not be misled or manipulated when she’s facing an unintended pregnancy.”

This year, NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, in partnership with nine of their state affiliates, launched the “Tour to Expose Fake Clinics” in an effort to raise the national dialogue about dangerous practices of CPCs and their misleading practices.  In addition, the organization also scored a victory in 2010 when its grassroots campaign successfully convinced and to change policies that allowed CPC’s to advertise online for abortion related services that they did not provide.

While the evidence documenting CPCs' deceptive tactics is not new, events this year have brought national attention to these facilities and their practices.  Notably, South Dakota passed an unprecedented law that requires women seeking abortion care to first submit to an in-person counseling session at a CPC, even if against her will.  Thankfully, last month a federal judge preliminarily enjoined the law before it took effect; however, the passage of this alarming legislation only underscores the urgent need for Congress to act to protect women from misinformation and manipulation and pass the Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women's Services Act.

In the last year, anti-choice litigators have launched legal challenges against ordinances that simply would ensure women seeking counseling at a CPC have full awareness of its anti-abortion, anti-contraception agenda.  Baltimore, Maryland, Montgomery County, Maryland, Austin, Texas, and New York City enacted ordinances requiring CPCs to post signs disclosing the limitations of their pregnancy-related counseling services. 

“If the anti-choice activists who challenged this law really believe that women deserve full information about their medical options, then they should have no objection to these laws,” Keenan said.

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