New York City Targets Pro-Woman Pregnancy Centers, Ignores Abortion Clinics

State   |   Christine Dattilo   |   Nov 23, 2010   |   7:36PM   |   New York, NY

This past Tuesday, November 16th, the New York City Council held a hearing on  legislation designed to impose costly legal and regulatory requirements on pregnancy help centers. The proposed legislation would hinder pregnancy help center’s ability to reach women with unplanned pregnancies who desire a choice other than abortion.

New York pregnancy help centers would be forced to post on their signage, in their waiting and client service rooms, and in all their advertising, that they do not offer nor refer for abortions nor do they have licensed medical staff on the premises (if that is the case). This is burdensome regulation that duplicates the Commitment of Care and Competence all Heartbeat affiliated pregnancy help centers sign and follow.

Heartbeat International’s Jor-El Godsey, Vice President, and Debra Neybert, Training Coordinator, traveled to New York for the hearings. They were there  to offer support to Heartbeat affiliated pregnancy help centers and to act as a resource for the American Center for Law and Justice that is representing Heartbeat International and some New York pregnancy help centers.

Jor-El reported that the main hearing room and an additional overflow room were filled to capacity. He described the atmosphere as charged.

Pro-life supporters and pro-abortion supporters were equally represented. Unfortunately, the council often asked leading questions that made it clear that pro-abortion advocates had prepped many of the City Council representatives beforehand.

The hearing revolved around “truth in advertising” and the charge that pregnancy help centers were deceptive.

Chris Slattery, president of Expectant Mother Care, a Heartbeat affiliate, testified that the EMC clinics only run ads that say “Free Abortion Alternatives,” “”Free Pregnancy Tests,” and “Free Confidential Options Counseling.” The “truth in advertising” is that EMC does provide these exact services and they are “Free!”

In a telling exchange, a Planned Parenthood representative was asked by a city council member if it was not deceptive for Planned Parenthood to use such a name, when in fact they did not offer any parenting classes or pre-natal care. He suggested that maybe they should change their name to “Planned Non-parenthood,” as that may be more truthful.

The second most contentious issue at the hearing was the constitutionality of singling out pregnancy help centers for regulation that applied to no other group.

Pregnancy help centers in New York are regulated under the Department of Consumer Affairs, a supporter of the proposed legislation. The department regulates claims made by commercial businesses in their advertising.

Upon questioning, Fran Freedman, of the Department of Consumer Affairs was asked if there were any other nonprofits in the city of New York who are regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs. The answer was, “No.”

Planned Parenthood and thousands of other nonprofits in the city are not subject to this proposed regulation, only pregnancy help centers. Clearly, pregnancy help centers were the sole target of this legislation.

After the hearing, Heartbeat International President, Peggy Hartshorn, received an informative letter summing up the day from the perspective of Nicole Baker, Executive Director, Boro Pregnancy Counseling Center.

Nicole writes, “Yesterday was an extremely draining day. It was difficult to listen to the other side falsely say over and over again how bad pregnancy centers are and that we intentionally lie and manipulate women….”

Nicole knew that many Heartbeat friends were praying and goes on to say, “Thank you for your prayers yesterday! I felt them! Thank you again for standing with us! I believe God will use this to bring glory to Himself and establish our work!!”

We don’t know the outcome of these hearings or when it will be brought to a vote before the full city council. Please be praying while we wait. Note: Christine Dattilo is a communicatonis consultant for Heartbeat International, a network of crisis pregnncy center nationwide and across the world.