Washington to Hear Bill Soon Attacking Pregnancy Centers

State   Steven Ertelt   Jan 19, 2011   |   5:45PM    Olympia, WA

The Washington state legislature will hold a hearing soon on a bill that would attack pregnancy centers offering women abortion alternatives.

Last year, the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee held a hearing on the bill but it never made it further than that. The bill, Senate Bill 6452, had the backing of pro-abortion groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood, which loses abortion business when women find positive alternatives.

Now, HB 1366 and SB 5274 have been filed and the Family Policy Institute of Washington says the legislation will receive a hearing Monday afternoon.

“Proving once again that pro-abortion forces don’t like choice as much as they say they do,  the Washington state legislature has renewed their effort to shut down the pregnancy resource centers in Washington that offer woman an alternative to abortion clinics,” the pro-life organization told LifeNews.com.

The group is urging pro-life advocates to attend the hearing, saying that resulted in stalling the measure last time around.

“Last year at the hearings, pro-life advocates outnumbered abortion industry employees by a ratio of at least 10 to 1.  That was one of the primary reasons the bill was not passed,” it said.

The legislation, HB 1366, would create two classes of medical/pregnancy centers based on whether or not they provide abortions. It would require centers not doing abortions to disclose that fact in five different languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Cambodian, and Laotian) in 30 point font notices they would be required to place on the front door of the centers, and on any advertisement or notice promoting the center’s services.

FPIW complains the legislation “creates regulations and liabilities associated with medical records that do not apply to any other medical/pregnancy centers in Washington State.”

It “creates a private cause of action (lawsuit) against pregnancy centers for violations of any of the above regulations,” FPIW adds, saying the lawsuits can come from people who have never been to a pregnancy center, there is no need to prove damages to win the lawsuit, and those who sue a pregnancy center can collect legal fees from the center if they win while pregnancy centers cannot collect legal fees if they win a court decision.

“In summary, this bill creates significant liability for non-profit, faith-based, pregnancy centers that receive no tax dollars and provide at least $16 million in free services to communities in Washington simply because they do not offer abortion services,” the organization continued. “The stated reason is that they are afraid that women who are looking for an abortion will go to one of these centers.  Why the attention of the Washington State legislature is required to prevent that from happening is something each of us can ponder for ourselves.”

Sen. Rodney Tom, a Democrat from Medina, was the sponsor of the legislation last year. About 250 people turned up for the hearing where Tom said the centers give out false information.

Paula Cullen, founding director of Life Services Spokane, testified as well. She told LifeNews.com then that, at a time when the state is facing budget shortfalls and a busy legislative session,  pro-abortion groups are promoting a bill that could eliminate approximately $15 million worth of free services for women facing unplanned pregnancies. [relayed]

Cullen said the Attorney General’s Office has estimated the bill will cost Washington taxpayers more than a half million over the next four years to enforce.

“This bill hurts pregnant women, plain and simple,” Cullen said

“It will be critical for legislators to learn for themselves about the tremendous contribution of pregnancy centers in their districts. They will find that these entities have been serving their communities for years without complaint and play a critical role in providing a web of support to women facing unplanned pregnancies,” she told LifeNews.com.