Bill strengthens and increases protection for women who seek pregnancy related services

City Hall, October 12, 2010 – Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, along with Council Member Jessica Lappin, today announced legislation to protect women seeking help at limited service pregnancy centers (often referred to as crisis pregnancy centers) in New York City. NARAL Pro-Choice New York also released the results of an investigation on these centers throughout the five boroughs that documented a variety of disturbing tactics designed to mislead or misinform women seeking pregnancy related services. Joining the Council were Kelli Conlin, President of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, Joan Malin, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood New York City, and a coalition of advocates who worked together with the Council on its response to this issue.

This legislation will require limited service pregnancy centers to disclose that they do not provide abortions, FDA approved contraception or referrals for these services. Disclosure will be in the form of signs at the entrance of the facility and in any waiting rooms as well as on the center’s website or on any advertising that they may publish. Furthermore, it will require signage to be posted if there is not a licensed medical professional present at the center. It will also require centers to give clients confidentiality protections by not disclosing personal or health information without consent.

“With this bill, women across the five boroughs can feel safer knowing that the city is ensuring that when they seek pregnancy-related services they know what they are getting at a given center,” said Speaker Quinn. “By requiring these centers to clearly state their available services, women can make a more informed decision on the services they seek. Nobody has the right to prevent a woman from taking care of her health. Women now can be confident in their personal and legal health care decisions – and know that no one will be allowed to stand in their way.”

“New York women have a right to medically accurate and comprehensive information about their health. These anti-choice centers mislead and manipulate women to push an agenda. My bill would require that these centers tell women they are not medically licensed, often do not have doctors present, and don’t treat the information they receive as confidential. It’s time to regulate these centers and protect New York women,” Councilwoman Jessica Lappin said.

“When a woman walks into a facility representing itself as a source of medically accurate, unbiased reproductive health information and services, she has a right to expect — and to actually receive — comprehensive reproductive health care,” said Kelli Conlin, President of NARAL Pro-Choice New York. “Unfortunately, as NARAL Pro-Choice New York’s report, “She Said Abortion Could Cause Breast Cancer:” A Report on the Lies, Manipulations, and Privacy Violations of Crisis Pregnancy Centers — reveals, CPCs instead greet women with biased counseling, anti-abortion propaganda, deliberate deception, and emotional manipulation. NARAL Pro-Choice New York believes that the deceptive and manipulative practices of CPCs must be exposed and, while not every dishonest practice can be remedied through legislation, public education can arm women with the facts about the true agenda of CPCs.”

“As one of the largest reproductive health care providers in New York City, we all too often see the impact on our patients that these deceptive limited service pregnancy centers have,” said Joan Malin, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood. “They target our health care centers, setting up across the street from our Bronx center and in the same building as our Brooklyn center and prey upon our patients, using deceptive signage and advertising. Women who visit these facilities expect to receive neutral comprehensive medical care and instead are greeted with manipulation and ideology designed to coerce and scare them.

“The fact that there are anti-abortion groups operating fake health centers in order to terrorize vulnerable women into forgoing their reproductive rights is an outrage,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras, Chair of the Women’s Committee. “‘Abortion alternative’ centers function as retail fronts for an ideology that is profoundly anti-woman, and they target women who are in desperate need of actual medical information and advice. This bill will force truth-in-labeling upon supposed pregnancy centers that in reality offer no medical expertise, and which counsel women to follow medieval doctrines regarding reproductive health.”

“Government has a responsibility to protect us from organizations, programs or businesses that engage in disingenuous and misleading practices,” said Council Member Maria Del Carmen Arroyo, Chair of the Health Committee. I am happy to co-sponsor the Crisis Pregnancy Centers legislation because it seeks to enact protections for women at a time that may prove to be a very exciting and or challenging for them and their families.”

“The right of a woman to choose is only fully realized with access to information,” said Council Member Diana Reyna. “I am proud to stand with Speaker Quinn and Council Member Lappin as a co-sponsor of this bill to insure that women facing life changing decisions are given facts not ideologies.”

“Latinas in New York City should have accurate information and be provided all of their options so they can make informed decisions about their reproductive health needs,” said Veronica Bayetti Flores, Senior Policy Analyst for National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “We are glad to see proactive efforts to ensure that women are treated with dignity, not deception, when they seek pregnancy-related care.”

“As the voice of midwives and the women we care for in New York State, NYSALM believes it is essential that women receive non-deceptive, clear and full information from anyone who purports to be a medical provider and/or about the services offered at a facility, with penalties for those who purposefully deceive women,” said Laura Sheperis, president of the New York State Association of Licensed Midwives (NYSALM)

Shirley Limongi-(Council)-212-788-7116
Samantha Levine (NARAL Pro-Choice NY) 646-520-3510
Erica Sakin-(Planned Parenthood of New York City) 646-541-0217