Published Mar 13, 2011 10:42 PM
Special to Workers World New York
On March 2 the New York City Council voted to regulate so-called "crisis pregnancy centers." These are centers set up to look like a doctor's office or clinic where pregnant women can seek care for pregnancy, abortion or contraception, including the morning-after pill. But their only mission is to convince women not to have abortions. ??
These centers usually have no licensed medical personnel on site and, until now, were not licensed or regulated in any way. Privacy laws safeguarding the confidentiality of patient information do not apply to these centers. Women who go there have to perform their own pregnancy tests -- using a pregnancy test kit sold over the counter in pharmacies -- because the centers are not licensed to do medical tests or procedures. ??
The new law requires that these phony centers notify clients whether or not there are licensed medical personnel on site; clearly state that they do not provide or offer referrals for abortion care, the morning-after pill or any form of contraception; and ensure confidentiality of all information collected from clients. The law requires this notification at the centers and in all advertising, both in print and online. Taking into account the special vulnerability of non-English speakers to the deceptive tactics used, all notifications must be in Spanish as well as English.?
These sham centers are often located near or even in the same building as Planned Parenthood or other abortion providers in order to lure women with unintended pregnancies and subject them to anti-abortion propaganda. They do not provide medically accurate information about pregnancy, contraception or abortion and promote discredited notions about links between abortion and breast cancer. ??
Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, says abortion foes' free speech is not curbed by the new law. "But they don’t have the right to dress up as doctors and masquerade as health care providers and deceive women into thinking they’ve been to the doctor when they have not.” (New York Times, March 2)
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