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New York City Council Holds hearing on Bill Attacking Pregnancy Centers

by Steven Ertelt | New York, NY | LifeNews.com | 11/16/10 8:12 PM

State

The New York City Council held a hearing today on a bill sponsored by abortion backers to attack pregnancy centers that provide women with tangible pregnancy assistance and abortion alternatives.

The proposal would place stringent limits on the advertising pregnancy centers use and require them to post signs designed to dissuade women from seeking their abortion alternatives services.

Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, and Councilwoman Jessica S. Lappin are behind the proposed ordinance, which would follow in the footsteps of similar proposals in Baltimore and Austin.

The bill would make pregnancy centers include information in their ads saying they do not give out the morning after pill or make abortion referrals. It would also require them to post the signs with the disclaimers at the entrance of their clinic and in patient waiting and exam rooms. The signs must also say whether or not a licensed medical professional is on staff, though that is frequently the case with many centers.

The bill contains no similar proposal for abortion businesses.

During the hearing, representatives of pregnancy centers testified they are already up front about services they do and do not provide.

“This bill runs on the assumption that women are incompetent,” he said.

Before the hearing, in an email to LifeNews.com, Slattery said pregnancy centers supporters are engaging in “in the fight for our lives.”

“This bill’s set of unconstitutional laws could cripple our work with its new free speech-strangling regulations of our advertising and outreach with the threats of staggering fines, and probable shutdowns of our offices aimed at crippling our work of ministry to abortion minded clients,” he said.

“We have been fighting full strength for a full month now, getting ready for today’s afternoon and evening hearings, and we have been lobbying hard, with dozens of face to face appointments with our staff, mothers, and our attorneys with Council members in their offices,” he said.

Slattery said the pregnancy centers are needed in a city that sees 89,000 abortions annually — more than in most states. he says they have been able to help 38,000 women avoid abortions over the last 25 years.

A representative of the Archdiocese of New York also testified for the pregnancy centers during the hearing.

But abortion advocates made claims that pregnancy centers exploit women — though  the information they provided came from their own reports and not independent evaluations made by outside groups.

“CPCs don’t just prey on women seeking abortions. They also target women seeking birth control,” a representative of Planned Parenthood New York claimed.

In one case the claims against the centers came from a staffer for the pro-abortion New York chapter of the ACLU who contends she received a problematic ultrasound from one local center.

Some of the claims bordered on the preposterous with one abortion advocate telling the city council pregnancy center staff “have even grabbed a woman and shoved her into a cab, telling her if she came into our center she’d die” and that they “tell Latina women that abortions are illegal and a woman will be deported if she gets one.”

Care Net, a national network of more than 1,100 centers in North America, says the attacks ignore the excellent records of pregnancy centers.

“The proposed bill is a response to the growing national movement of Americans who find the practical, nonjudgmental outreach of pregnancy centers to women very appealing” she said in a statement sent to LifeNews.com. “People are tired of the old culture wars, but groups like NARAL that advocate for the abortion industry want to keep them going, dividing our communities and our country.”

“Pregnancy centers in New York City have been providing free services to pregnant women for decades,” Delahoyde added. “The City Council should be thanking them. Instead, they’ve launched a legislative battle that will drain precious resources away from the women who are in need of pregnancy center services.”

Delahoyde told LifeNews.com that centers affiliated with Care Net have very high medical standards.

“In response to NARAL’s accusations, Care Net and our network of pregnancy centers remain committed to absolute integrity and excellence in everything we do,” she said.

“That means being completely forthright about the services we offer and the services we don’t. That means ensuring that women seeking help with a pregnancy decision receive accurate information about pregnancy, fetal development, and abortion risks,” she explained. “To that end, Care Net provides its centers with extensive training and material that is regularly reviewed by our Medical Advisory Board for accuracy.”

“If pregnancy centers are as terrible as NARAL would suggest, then why do 97% of Care Net’s client exit surveys nationwide reveal positive approval ratings for our centers? Why is our #1 source of new clients ‘word-of-mouth’ referrals from former clients?” Delahoyde asked.

The New York City Council is moving in the same direction as local officials in Baltimore, Maryland and Austin, Texas.

Baltimore officials approved a sign ordinance there, although the centers, with the help of the Catholic Archdiocese, have filed a lawsuit to overturn the ordinance.

On April 8, pro-abortion Austin City Council members introduced an ordinance to require pregnancy centers to display similar signs.

The ordinance requires pregnancy centers to prominently display, at the entrance of their office, two black and white signs — one in English and one in Spanish — saying: “This center does not provide abortions or refer to abortion providers. This center does not provide or refer to providers of U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved birth control drugs and medical devices.”

In Baltimore, pro-life city council members attempted to get their colleagues to approve an amendment to the ordinance requiring abortion centers to post similar signs saying they do not provide or refer to places that provide abortion alternatives or pregnancy support. Members of the Baltimore city council rejected the amendment.