The Supreme Court declined last week to review a decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upholding a New York City law that requires so-called crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) in New York City to inform patients that they do not have any medical professionals on staff.
The Supreme Court’s decision lets stand a portion of a New York City law that requires CPCs to post a “status disclosure” in English and Spanish at the entrance to its facilities and in waiting rooms, informing patients whether or not a licensed medical professional works on-site at the facility. CPCs must also communicate the disclosure orally during meetings and in telephone conversations with potential clients.
The law requiring CPCs to disclose their non-medical status was enacted in 2011. It mandates that imitation clinics must post a “status disclosure” in English and Spanish at the entrance to facilities and in waiting rooms. The disclaimer must be communicated orally to clients or potential clients, in-person and in advertisements. The law also required CPCs to disclose that the New York City Department of Health encourages women who are or may become pregnant to consult with a licensed medical provider. In addition, the original law mandated that CPCs disclose their policy on referrals for abortion services, emergency contraception, or prenatal care.
The New York City Council passed the CPC law in response to evidence that certain CPCs in New York City were engaging in “deceptive practices” intended to mislead clients about the services they provide, which include misleading consumers about the types of goods and services they provide on-site, the types of goods and services for which they will provide referrals to third parties, and the availability of licensed medical providers that provide or oversee services on-site. It is the Council’s intention that consumers in New York City have access to comprehensive information about and timely access to all types of reproductive health services.
Shortly after the law took effect in 2011, five CPCs – including Evergreen Association Inc and the Life Center of New York, Inc – filed suit against the city, alleging that the law was an infringement of their right to freedom of speech and due process. A lower court judge, siding with the anti-abortion centers, ruled that the law was “unconstitutionally vague,” and granted a preliminary injunction. Earlier this year, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the “status disclosure” provision of the law, but struck down the portions of the bill that required CPCs to acknowledge the NYC Health Department message or state its referral policy for services like abortion.
The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the anti-abortion groups’ suit means the law will be enforced according to the ruling of the Second Circuit.
Media Resources: Reuters 11/3/14; Feminist Newswire 2/22/14; 6/9/14