The “Stop Deceptive Advertising For Women’s Services Act” before Congress would crack down on facilities that deceptively advertise abortion services that they do not provide

New York, NY – Today, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Council Member Jessica Lappin called for Congress to swiftly pass the “Stop Deceptive Advertising For Women’s Services Act” (SDAWS). The SDAWS Act (H.R. 2030/S. 981) would give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the ability to regulate Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) that use underhanded and dishonest tactics to deter women from having abortions, aggressively encouraging them to carry their pregnancies to term. Under the legislation, FTC would have the authority to examine the claims and practices of CPCs as it would with any other business. Congresswoman Maloney is the House sponsor of SDAWS and this week, the Council will vote on a resolution sponsored by Council Members Ferreras, Lappin and Mendez calling on Congress to pass the bill. With a 2010 City Council law requiring Pregnancy Service Centers (many of which are CPCs) to be more transparent about their services still pending in court and New York State’s Women’s Equality Act failing to pass, this federal legislation is more critical than ever.

“Nobody has the right to prevent women from taking care of their health and CPCs should not be allowed to stand in their way,” said Speaker Quinn. “Deceptive actions that interfere with a woman’s right to choose will not be tolerated. We fully support Congresswoman Maloney’s sponsorship of SDAWS and are grateful for her unwavering defense of the health and rights of women across the country. We hope that our Council resolution will send the clear message to Washington that this legislation must pass.”

“No woman deserves to be misled or lied to about legal medical and family planning services,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “The Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Services Act would prevent so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers from falsely advertising abortion services in an attempt to interfere with women’s constitutional rights. I applaud Speaker Quinn and the City Council for urging Congress to pass this legislation and do the right thing.”

Through biased information, scare tactics and blatant lies, CPCs deprive women seeking pregnancy-related services of prenatal care, effectively increasing chances of risky, late-term abortions. Additionally, staff at CPCs discourage safe and effective forms of contraceptives; provide incorrect and incomplete information about options such as adoption and abortion; and use deceptive images and video to deter women from choosing abortion.

In 2010, the Council passed legislation to require Pregnancy Service Centers, including CPCs, to disclose that they do not, in fact, provide abortions, FDA-approved contraception or referrals for these services. Opponents of the law argued that it violated free speech rights and in 2011, Judge William H. Pauley III issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law. A decision whether to vacate the injunction is currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

“As Chair of the Women’s Issues Committee and an expectant mother myself, I am very concerned about the health care women receive at crisis pregnancy centers,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras. “The Stop Deceptive Advertising For Women’s Services Act is a vital step towards protecting women’s rights and prenatal care. I applaud Congresswoman Maloney for sponsoring the SDAWS Act and am proud to stand with my colleagues in local government in urging the Federal government to pass this legislation.”

“Anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers are not only deceptive–they’re dangerous. That’s why I wrote and passed a landmark law to regulate these fake clinics, and any other pregnancy center in New York City that attempts to deceive pregnant women. Today we’re asking Washington to pass Congresswoman Maloney’s legislation to protect women across the nation,” said Council Member Lappin.

“Deception and lies don’t help women make informed choices,” said Joan Malin, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City. “Too often women are given incomplete or even inaccurate information that leaves them misinformed, confused and afraid. I applaud Representative Carolyn Maloney for introducing federal legislation that would guarantee critical health care information is given to women so they can make informed decisions about their health, and thank our Council Members and Speaker Quinn for continuing to stand behind the women of New York.”

“Women here in New York City and across this country face obstacles every day in accessing accurate, bias-free information so they can make the reproductive health decisions best for them and their families. Women in need of quality services and honest information demand our attention and our action on the city level and on the federal level to prevent crisis pregnancy centers from doing harm to women. As other legislators across the country engage in a race to the bottom in terms of denying women access to reproductive health services, I am proud to stand alongside such pro-choice champions as Speaker Quinn and Congresswoman Maloney to prevent anti-choice extremists from lying to women and endangering their health and safety,” said Andrea Miller, President, NARAL Pro-Choice New York.

“Most people find it shocking that anti-choice groups can set up shop posing as real health clinics and provide pregnant women with outright false information about their health and their options. Women, as consumers and as patients, deserve transparent access to safe, accurate, and legitimate reproductive medical care,” said Sonia Ossorio, President NOW-NYC.

“Women evaluating their options in the face of an unexpected pregnancy have a right to complete and reliable information, not the disingenuous and hurtful propaganda peddled by so-called crisis pregnancy centers. We stand with the New York City Council in supporting Rep. Maloney’s efforts to put a stop to their deceptive practices,” said Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northup.