A federal judge in California ruled on Monday to uphold a new law requiring crisis pregnancy centers to disclose that they are not licensed medical providers and to post notices providing information about California’s public programs offering access to family planning, prenatal and abortion services.
U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller ruled that while the notices are compelled speech, the law did not violate pregnancy centers’ free speech rights, as the signs required only “truthful, non-misleading information.”
The Pacific Justice Institute brought the lawsuit on behalf of three crisis pregnancy centers after the law, AB 775, was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in October. The lawsuit sought an injunction to stop the law from going into effect on January 1.
The law represents an effort to curb the proliferation of anti-abortion, faith-based “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” (CPCs) and address the public health threat posed by their deceptive practices. CPCs frequently pose as comprehensive women’s health clinics and advertise under “abortion” and “family planning” services, but do not offer abortion services, contraception, or referrals, and have been repeatedly shown to provide false or misleading information about reproductive health services.
The fight for clear and accurate information for pregnant women has long been a fight for women’s rights activists. Last year, in response to a campaign by NARAL Pro-Choice America and efforts by the Feminist Majority Foundation to expose fake clinics, Google removed deceptive crisis pregnancy center (CPC) advertisements from search engine results when users seek information about abortion services. Most of the advertisements claimed that the CPCs provided abortions when they did not.
Media Resources: The Sacramento Bee 12/22/15; Feminist Newswire 9/24/15, 4/29/14; Feminist Campus Fact Sheet March 2014