A California committee has approved a bill that would force pregnancy centers providing women with abortion alternatives to refer women for abortions.
Thousands of pregnancy centers across the nation are the counterbalance to the abortion industry by providing women with tangible help and real alternatives to abortion. But pregnancy centers in California may soon find themselves forced to promote abortions under legislation pending in the California legislature.
AB 775, the Pregnancy Counseling Discrimination Rule, would require all pregnancy centers to promote abortions to their clients. There is no conscience clause or opt out for centers that provide pregnant women assistance without abortions or abortion referrals. Failure to comply carries a $500 fine for first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense. The bill authorizes the Attorney General, city attorney, or county counsel to impose the civil fines.
The bill was heard yesterday in the Assembly Health committee on Tuesday and the California Pro-Life Council is concerned it will pass and be sent to the state Assembly floor. Democrats on the panel pushed through the legislation:
Overriding objections by expert witnesses from legal and medical fields, along with 82 additional witnesses in opposition to California State Assembly Bill 775, the Assembly Health Committee voted 11-5 to pass the legislation Tuesday afternoon.
The bill, named the “Reproductive FACT Act,” is now headed to the Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Assemblymen Mark Stone (D) and vice-chaired by Donald P. Wagner (R).
Also sitting on the 10-person Judiciary Committee is the bill’s co-author, Assemblyman David Chiu (D)—who introduced the bill and is the only member serving on both the Assembly Health Committee and the Judiciary Committee.
“Regardless of the decision to pass the bill at this committee level, we made an unmistakable statement that the opposition to the bill has the support of hundreds of thousands of Californians,” Carol Dodds, Executive Director of A Woman’s Friend Pregnancy Resource Center in Marysville, said. “While the citizens who lined up in support of the bill numbered 24, over 80 people spoke in opposition, several stating the number of thousands of people on whose behalf they spoke as organizational representatives.”
NARAL Pro-Choice California State Director Amy Everett and Eileen Schnitger, Director of Public Policy for Women’s Health Specialists of California, testified in favor of the bill.
Expert witnesses from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and California Coalition of Pregnancy Clinics and Centers, along with Valerie Hill, CEO for Real Options Pregnancy Medical Clinics—licensed by the California Department of Public Health—opposed the bill.
Lori Arnold of the California Family Alliance emailed her concerns about the bill to LifeNews.com.
“California’s grisly abortion industry is in the midst of a government-sponsored boon. In 2013, the state waived safety regulations for abortion clinics (AB 980) and reduced the medical standards required to perform abortions by allowing certain nurses to do the surgeries (AB 154),” she said. “And last year, the California Department of Health cut all medical reimbursements by 10 percent while increasing taxpayer funding of abortions providers by 40 percent.”
“But abortion profiteers like Planned Parenthood and NARAL are still not content with state taxpayers as their sugar daddy. They are now pushing new discriminatory regulations that would force local Pregnancy Care Centers and Clinics (or PCCs, which provide free and confidential support services to pregnant mothers) to advertise and promote chemical and surgical abortions,” Arnold added. “Under the provisions of AB 775 (Chiu, D-San Francisco), PCC’s that provide medical services such as ultrasounds would be required to refer all clients to Medi-Cal programs that provide free abortions. In addition, any non-medical centers that offer free counseling, pregnancy support, and parenting classes would be required to post signage stating they are “not licensed facilities.” Both types of PCCs would also be coerced to include such statements in all advertising.”
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CareNet, one of the largest networks of pregnancy centers in North America, strongly opposes the legislation. In a statement on its website, Eve Marie Barner Gleason, director of Center Best Practices, said the measure is clearly biased in its approach.
“The abortion industry in California has a problem,” she said. “They have already ensured a steady income stream by getting abortion funded by taxpayers through Medi-Cal. But some women choose to seek information and assistance in making a pregnancy decision at centers where they receive accurate information about abortion risks and are empowered to choose life. They see every choice for life as money lost.”
Arnold says market share is undoubtedly a primary motivation for AB 775. “But sadly, it goes even beyond money. The pro-abortion movement will not be satisfied until it silences all opposition to its cause. At the same time, it defiantly rejects its own hypocrisy
Unfortunately, if approved, AB 755 will become a dangerously powerful tool in the anti-life arsenal. As CareNet’s Gleason told her member operators, “You pay for your advertising. Now, they want you to pay for theirs too.”
Finally, the bill would also require the Attorney General to post on the Department of Justice’s Internet Web site a list of the covered facilities upon which a civil penalty has been imposed.