At the end of last week, two bills were introduced to Washington State Legislature. These bills (Limited Service Pregnancy Center Accountability Act (SB 5274/HB 1366) both aim at regulating Crisis Pregnancy Centers/ Limited Service Pregnancy Centers throughout Washington. This is such an important step because Washington would be the first to have a state-wide ordinance that places several necessary regulations on these deceptive centers. Other cities, such as Austin, TX and Baltimore, MD, have put similar bills into effect but if Washington too passes these bills then hopefully similar legislation will garner more support–because regulating CPC’s is way overdue.
CPCs need to be regulated because they go under the guise of a comprehensive women’s health center as well as advertising under abortion and family planning services. This deception generally is aimed toward targeting minority women with no health care and very limited options for dealing with an unexpected or undesired pregnancy. The Washington State bills propose that CPC’s disclose that they do not provide abortions, comprehensive birth control, or referrals to other organizations. They would have to list this information on their website, at their main entry, and inside the building of the CPC. Also, they would have to verbally mention this information to anybody seeking their services whether it be in person, through the phone, or via email. With this legislation, Crisis Pregnancy Centers would not be able to disclose any health care information to another person or organization without written approval from the person receiving CPC services. Since CPC’s have been known for withholding pregnancy test results until it is too late for an abortion to be preformed, Washington’s bill is proposing that CPC’s provide the results–written and in both English and the recipient’s primary language–as soon as they are available.
As far as a federal legislation, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has proposed the “Stop Deceptive Advertising in Women’s Service Act” (SDAWS) which would put similar restrictions and rules on clinics who advertise under services they do not provide. So far, SDAWS has faced several petition to stop the act from going any further and has 11 cosponsors in the House.
We are very excited about this proposed legislation and we’ll keep you updated on it’s progress!