The Baltimore City Council passed the second reading of a bill Monday that would require crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to disclose that they do not provide information or referrals for abortion or birth control. The bill passed on a 12 to 3 vote after an amendment that would have also required disclaimers to be posted by abortion clinics was rejected, reported the Baltimore Sun. A third vote is required before the bill is submitted to the city’s mayor for approval.
Currently, there are an estimated 2,593 CPCs nationwide, most of which are affiliated with one or more national umbrella organizations. CPCs pose as legitimate health centers and offer “free” pregnancy tests. Some CPCs coerce and intimidate women out of considering abortion as an option, and prevent women from receiving neutral and comprehensive medical advice. They are typically run by anti-abortion volunteers who are not licensed medical professionals.
The bill was drafted as a result of a number of complaints voiced during a public hearing on the subject. City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said, “I’m not interested in harassment — not interested in there being an aura of burden on these centers. All I’m interested in is making sure when a women comes in, when she’s in crisis, that she knows what she’s getting when she walks in,” according to WBAL TV Baltimore.
This legislation is the first in the country developed to create a standard requirement for information disclosure. Currently, the Montgomery County, Maryland, City Council is considering similar legislation.