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MD County Considering Requiring CPC Disclaimers

Legislation that would require most “limited-service pregnancy centers” to provide disclaimers about the services they provide was introduced Tuesday in the Montgomery County, Maryland, City Council. According to the Washington Post, the disclaimer would require that information provided by these centers “is not intended to be medical advice or to establish a doctor-patient relationship,” and that “the client should consult with a health care provider before proceeding on a course of action regarding the client’s pregnancy.” Limited-service pregnancy centers are also known as crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs).

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 legislation was introduced by Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large), who said in a statement that “nothing is more important than the protection of the health and well-being of women in Montgomery County. Requiring full disclosure of crisis pregnancy centers is critical, given that there are more CPCs in the County than there are publicly-funded comprehensive family planning clinics.” The anti-choice community opposes the disclosure requirements. Executive director of Maryland Right to Life, Angela Martin, told the Washington Post that the disclaimers are “completely unwarranted and unnecessary. They are essentially trying to impose unnecessary regulations on charities that are providing women with genuine alternatives to abortion.”

The Baltimore City Council is currently considering legislation in that would require crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to disclose that they do not provide information or referrals for certain services. This legislation is the first in the country developed to create a standard requirement for information disclosure.

Sources:

Feminist Daily Newswire 3/31/09, 10/7/09; Washington Post 11/11/09; Montgomery County City Council Press Release 11/10/09

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