New bill requires Baltimore CPCs to post signage about lack of abortion information

File this one under the WIN category. The Baltimore City Council passed a law requiring crisis pregnancy centers to post signs in their waiting rooms.

It requires all pregnancy centers that do not offer abortion information to post signs in English and Spanish to that effect.
If the mayor signs the legislation, they’d be required to put up a sign in the waiting room making it clear they don’t offer the service.

Catholic groups and folks from these centers tried to claim being forced to put up these signs was harassment, but the City Council felt differently.

“It’s a simple sign that you can make on your computer and printer in five minutes. It doesn’t say anything other than what is true about the centers,” said City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

The mayor is expected to sign the bill, which will enforce the new policy with a $150 fee for centers that don’t comply.
It’s nice to see proactive legislation being passed to combat the coercive and often misleading actions of these centers, who refuse to give women any information at all about abortion.
Similar legislation is being considered in Montgomery County, Maryland.

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27 Comments

  1. The Non-Student
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for posting. This is good news and it will empower women to make informed decisions about where to receive counseling when facing an unintended pregnancy. Of course, the CPCs say this is “harassment.”

  2. Caro13
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Yay for my hometown! Hopefully the bill will be signed and then enforced.
    And of course the “CPCs” are against it — the illusion of being a real medical office where women can go for a full range of services/referrals (or even just information) about their pregnancy options and reproductive rights is exactly what these places are going for. If you didn’t know any better, that’s what you could easily think looking at their signs or websites, and that’s no accident.

  3. susanstohelit
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Yay, MD represent! I’m so glad they’re tackling this – the mendacity of these centers is astounding and it’s important that women know upfront that they can’t obtain an abortion there. Truth in advertising, folks, it’s not that difficult a concept.

  4. Rachel
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    This is definitely good news! Now if they could only make a law requiring them to provide valid, non-biased and honest information on abortion… We can dream, can’t we?

  5. Monica Shores
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I love how not smooth the crisis centers are about this really throwing a wrench in their plans. Complaining about posting a sign that’s merely stating a pertinent fact? Makes you look verrrrry shady.

  6. Chickensh*tEagle
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Call me a cynic, but the proof of the pudding is in the autopsy. In today’s climate it wouldn’t surprise me to see at least some places purveying all sorts of misinformation while claiming it puts them in compliance.

  7. GigoloAsshattin
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    It’s a start. Now we need to work on a nationwide law requiring these frauds to post the fact that these centers are not staffed by medical professionals, nor do they dispense medically accurate information. I think women would prefer to know that the people waiting to stick a tube up your twat for an ultrasound in these places aren’t medical technicians, but literally any random zealots that walk in to volunteer.

  8. Femgineer
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how often each CPC can be cited with not complying with this law. I’m thinking that if I ran a CPC, I would take the $150 fine rather than post the truth.

  9. saintcatherine
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Just FYI:
    Most ultrasounds are external. Ultrasounds that are internal are used for the very earliest stages of pregnancy, and AFAIK you will not encounter this kind of ultrasound in a CPC.
    Actually, they are more likely to go for the 4D because you get more baby in those images.

  10. libdevil
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    $150? They spend tens of thousands on these traps. Unless it’s something like $150/day it’s not even going to make a dent, and they’ll certainly pay up rather than comply.
    Thankfully, the bill posted on the council web site suggests that the penalties are per day, but it also says $500, so some sort of changes have been made to the penalty section if the news reports are to be believed.

  11. saintcatherine
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have a problem with signs that say, “we don’t refer for abortions,” which is what the bill requires.
    I do have a problem with requiring them to post signs like, “we don’t have to give you accurate information,” etc., which has been tried before.
    Also, I continue to post my protest at the “CPC’s are all evil” meme.

  12. GigoloAsshattin
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Just repeating what I’ve heard from NARAL organizers who are familiar with the practices of crisis pregnancy centers, but you may be right.

  13. Lisa
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have a problem with organizations that offer pregnancy support to women but why would those who object to this law do so unless their goal is to be deceptive? If abortion information isn’t part of their services, why not be clear about it? And if they are a Christian organization with moral objections to abortion it makes even more sense to make their stance clear.
    It’s crystal clear that the only reason to protest putting up a sign is if their goal is to trick women into thinking they provide abortion counseling. In effect, those who object are the perfect evidence that there is a need for the law.

  14. clementine
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    it would be awesome if they also had to post signs saying that the the people who will be consulting you and possibly giving you an ultrasound are not medically trained or licensed.

  15. saintcatherine
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Good heavens, do they know of CPC’s that do internal ultrasounds? I would like to know about that. Although not much suprises me.
    If you are responding to my comment about “cll CPC’s are evil” — which I reject– then I say, NARAL has been promoting this idea over the last handful of years and it has finally caught on. But it is not based on any compelling evidence that I have ever seen.
    People have to remember that there are all kinds of CPCs, run by hundreds (at least) different organisations all over the country. I have no doubt that some of them are filled with nutters who lie, or withold information.
    I also know from first-hand experience that many are staffed by loving, knowledgeable, and yes, pro-life people who want to help women who are in need. And who do NOT lie to them , or try to scare them.

  16. Gopher
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    “Also, I continue to post my protest at the “CPC’s are all evil” meme.”
    Interesting…..why? They are.

  17. Mama Mia
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Here is my prediction for what the signs will say:
    “This clinic does not provide information or referrals for abortions because of recent “scientific” evidence that has found abortions cause breast cancer, depression, and whatever else we can think of to claim. The City of Baltimore just wanted you to know.”
    $100 on that one.

  18. saintcatherine
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    “It’s crystal clear that the only reason to protest putting up a sign is if their goal is to trick women into thinking they provide abortion counseling. In effect, those who object are the perfect evidence that there is a need for the law.”
    Actually, in this story as in others covering the discussion andvoting on this bill, the Sun has quoted opponents saying things along the lines of, “it’s not even the words that are on the signs that are an issue; it’s that we are being targeted specifically. Why no other sign requirements for other people?”
    For example, the question has repeatedly been proposed: Should Planned Parenthood be required to post a sign that says, “We do not provide financial or emotional support for you if you choose to bring your baby to term”? Or, “We will provide you with abortions or birth control, but not formula, baby suppies, or childbirth or parenting classes”?
    Which I have to say is kind of a reasonable objection, and it is a personal pet peeve of mine that PP has absolutely nothing to offer women who are keeping their pregnancies.

  19. saintcatherine
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Also, I think that it is kind of silly to keep claiming that women are so easily fooled into believing that they are going to a clinic that provides abortions. I am not saying that it doesn’t happen because it obviously does. But, again, in my experience with three different CPC’s most ofthe people know exactly what is or isn’t offered at those places. The majority of the clients are there for the assistance they give wih formula, diapers, cribs, etc.

  20. DownAtTheDinghy
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    This is tragically disappointing. I was hoping this bill would require a lot more from CPCs than it seems to. Way to go, you got them to print an 8×11 sheet of paper and pin it on the wall – and the $150 fine is laughable.
    As an abortion counselor, I can attest that women in “crisis pregnancies” are not milling about clinic waiting rooms reading pieces of paper taped to the wall. In fact, they rarely read the paperwork they have to fill out and the very important papers we give them about procedures – something you would think would be of extreme interest. We offer these info papers as a service to provide them with all the information they could need, but about half (or fewer) of patients ever read them in entirety.
    Women are frightened and ashamed (usually) when seeking abortion – they are far from a state of mind in which they will be asking about or searching for legitimacy of clinics. Even if these signs were posted at eye level where you check in, a large majority would either overlook it entirely or not understand it.
    NAF has issued a very interesting report on CPCs at Prochoice.org, please give it a read.
    As for the commenter who thinks CPCs aren’t so bad – maybe 1 in 90 has honorable practices – but as someone who has to debunk their myths, lies, and deceptive practices on a daily basis, I spit on your “protest that all CPCs are evil meme.” You also know from first hand experience they are staffed by “loving” people who “do not lie” – do you work for one?
    CPCs offer no valuable services to women in need unless they need to “officially” know they are pregnant and know they are carrying to term. CPCs falsify documents; some medical facilities don’t accept tests from them.
    CPCs are generally affiliated with one of 3 major pro-life organizations Carenet, Birthright, and Heartbeat International -so it doesn’t matter if there are “hundreds” of different ones; they all follow the same regulations and principles.
    You could classify this as a win, but in reality, the effect it will have is extremely minor – I say boo.

  21. Monica Shores
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Who has repeatedly posed that question? That question doesn’t make any sense. Are doctors in our country expected to provide financial support for their pregnant patient? Or a regular outlet for emotional coaching? Most doctors I’ve used can barely handle me getting emotional when we’re discussing my birth control. I’d hate to see how they’d respond if I were in full-on pregnancy mode and trying to confide in them about my fears for the future. Would you also like Ob-gyn offices to have a sign explaining they don’t offer counseling and financial assistance?
    Of course pregnant women without resources to carry their pregnancy to term should be assisted and if they find that assistance through a church affiliated group that makes them feel comfortable, great. But you’re being incredibly disingenuous in trying to equate PP with CPCs. Planned Parenthood provides accurate information about their services at every turn–online, on their automated phone systems, through receptionists who will give it to your straight. If CPCs are confident in their mission, they will do the same.

  22. Monica Shores
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    oops, sorry, the above was supposed to be a reply to saintcatherine’s: For example, the question has repeatedly been proposed: Should Planned Parenthood be required to post a sign that says, “We do not provide financial or emotional support for you if you choose to bring your baby to term”? Or, “We will provide you with abortions or birth control, but not formula, baby suppies, or childbirth or parenting classes”?

  23. saintcatherine
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Thanks for your response; I have been wonering a lot where the claims against CPC’s got started, or rather, ramped up in recent years.
    “As an abortion counselor, I can attest that women in “crisis pregnancies” are not milling about clinic waiting rooms reading pieces of paper taped to the wall.”
    I have always been curious about this: do you, as an abortion counselor, talk with women before they are decided on the abortion? Do women usually come in undecided or do you more often see them for the first time when they come in for an abortion? Also, wht does counseling entail? What do clinics offer to women who do not want abortions? Or does that happen very often? (that is, is the clientele self-selected by the time you see them).
    “NAF has issued a very interesting report on CPCs at Prochoice.org, please give it a read.”
    Thanks, again, for this reference. I did just read it an have spent a fair amount of time looking up its links and sources, too. I even called a place in Canada it footnotes because their website wouldn’t give me access to a particular page cited in the report.
    I am still going through this, however I will note that it displays a goo mix of excellent points (CPC’s that manipulate women an violate their privacy are an affront), and silly ones that you find in some pro-choice circles (OMG they don’t believe in abortion and they try to get people not to have one!!!!!). Both legitimate and reidiculous are all presented lumped together which, among other things, reflects the anti-religious bias that runs through some of the advocacy groups. (And while I kind of udnderstand why they end up this way, I really have a problem with the persistent lack of tolerance in this area. But that is whole ‘nother story).
    “but as someone who has to debunk their myths, lies, and deceptive practices on a daily basis, I spit on your “protest that all CPCs are evil meme.” You also know from first hand experience they are staffed by “loving” people who “do not lie” – do you work for one?”
    See, we were cool until here, lol! Why do you have to bring spitting into it?
    Again, I feel that I might be missing something, because my experience of CPC’s is so very different fom what is always said around here. Please explain to me what you mean by “debunk(ing)…every day”? Do you get people who have been to, and been misled or upset by, CPC’s– every day?
    Also, I have been both a recipient of help for a crisis pregnancy, and a volunteer at two CPC’s. Both, by the way, were small and independant and looked nothing like clinics. They were in old buildings with dusty rooms, lol, and had lots of out-of-fashion maternity clothes.
    Nor was it done to me, although there are plenty of “Don’t kill your baby” and “Abortion can make women depressed” kind of pamphlets around. Admittedly, during my crisis pregnancy, I knew I would not have an abortion from square one.
    But, as a volunteer I was never, ever told to do anything like what is described in that NARAL report.
    “CPCs offer no valuable services to women in need unless they need to “officially” know they are pregnant and know they are carrying to term. CPCs falsify documents; some medical facilities don’t accept tests from them. ”
    I beg to differ here, but perhaps there is no way to discuss this properly, as I am still a bit wary from all of the “spitting”. But some people benefit from a certain kind of counseling which CAN be offered in CPC’s if they are ethically operated. I have heard plenty of horror stories about impersonal and/or ill-equipped places like Planned Parenthood, which suggested they had nothing really to offer women who didn’t end up wanting an abortion. But I try to keep an open mid that they aren’t, of course, all like that.
    Also, AFAIK no medical facility will take your word for it that you are pregnant before they perform a procedure on you like an abortion.
    “CPCs are generally affiliated with one of 3 major pro-life organizations Carenet, Birthright, and Heartbeat International -so it doesn’t matter if there are “hundreds” of different ones; they all follow the same regulations and principles.”
    What reglations and principles do you mean here? (See, this kind of vagueness frustrates me because it can obscure true facts or perpetuate flse ones, and then you get everybody saying the same things not really able to show if they are true.)
    Carenet I am familiar with but only barely; the main violation they seem to have committed according to that report is that they are religiously affiliated and don’t refer for birth control. (And again as I stated I am in favor of them disclosing this up front.) Also cited in the report is a Canadian association that helps otherwise unaffiliated organisations. I am not even sure if they operate in the U.S. (That is part of what I was trying to find out when I was blocked from access to the site; I will update if I get any more info from a callback.)
    Of the *four* CPC’s here in Baltimore, I only know for a fact that one is completely unaffiliated as far as regulations and princples. The lady who runs it is Roman Catholic and she doesn’t fit the picture of just about anything characterized in that report.
    Sorry so long. Please let me know your experiences, too.

  24. saintcatherine
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I hit “like” on your comment b/c I completely agree that CPC’s can and should operate with clarity and transparency, and that they should be allowed to do so and not targeted for aditional regulations just because they have a particular religious or philosophical stance against abortion or birth control.
    When I said “repeatedly posed”, I meant by critics of the bill, including organisations like the Archiocese of Baltimore, MD Right to Life, and local citizens writing in.
    You are correct in one sense that PP is not comparable to the CPC’s given the explcitly medical nature of PP services. But you also remided me of why CPC’s can be so important: because medical professionals typically DON’T want to hear you crying your way through the visit, and are not there to give you numbers for social services or a nonprofit that gives away work clothes for women. They serve different functions.

  25. saintcatherine
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Please see my other comments on this.

  26. Kathleen6674
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    The PP I go to routinely gives patients referrals to social services no matter what they come in for. It is one of the yes or no questions on the intake form. I found a therapist thanks to a PP referral.

  27. Lisa
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    I specifically said “some” to avoid painting all pregnancy centers with the same brush. I am glad there are groups that offer support to women who may not have the means or emotional support to carry a pregnancy. To me a large part of being pro-choice is supporting women whatever their decision may be. However, it’s not acceptable to use these organizations to deceive people into making the decision they find morally acceptable.
    Re: Planned Parenthood, I understand your desire to clear up misconceptions about the CPCs that don’t fall into the devious category but don’t fall prey to the same thing you’re preaching against. The planned parenthoods near me offer prenatal care and childbirth classes. They even offer help to apply for government programs. I’m sure not all PPs have the resources to offer these services, but as far as I know they all offer referrals to organizations that can provide help. PP also clearly lists their services (it varies a lot by clinic) on their phone message, online, and even in the phone book, so as far as I can tell they are clear about what they offer.

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