Baltimore Archdiocese sues over ban on false advertising for crisis pregnancy centers

The Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore is suing the city over an ordinance requiring area crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to post accurate information about the services they provide. The regulation, which went into effect in January, requires CPCs to post a sign in English and Spanish saying they do not provide abortion and contraception services.
As many of you may know, CPCs present themselves as reproductive health clinics but are usually religious organizations. Their goal is to keep women from accessing abortion and contraception, and they will very often lie and deceive to achieve their aim. Their names and advertising are designed to make women think they provide abortion and contraception. In fact, women who go to CPCs will often be subjected to anti-choice lectures and false information, including the claim that abortion causes breast cancer. CPCs often provide free pregnancy tests (the ones you can buy at the drug store) or even ultrasounds. I have spoken with women who were misinformed about how far along they were in their pregnancy in an attempt to keep them from accessing abortion services.
The Baltimore Archdiocese apparently thinks CPCs misleading women in their advertising is important enough that they filed this lawsuit. So I guess the Catholic Church is coming down on the side of misinformation and outright lies? Funny, I could have sworn that went against church teachings. I guess it’s more important to make sure women can’t access medical care or make their own informed decisions about their reproductive and sexual health.
The Archdiocese is being misleading in their lawsuit, as well. They protest the requirement CPCs state they do not give out contraception or referrals because they do provide, “education about abstinence and natural family planning.” Which, as RH Reality Check points out, is a pretty good sign these folks want to misinform women.
I really fail to see how free speech and freedom of religion are arguments in favor of false advertising. The fact that CPCs and the Archdiocese are this afraid of telling the truth is proof that the ordinance was necessary.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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  • johanna in dairyland

    Furthermore, wouldn’t you think the Diocese of Baltimore would be proud to advertise that they are fully in line with church teaching and will not provide information or referrals for abortion and contraception? I mean, that’s what they believe in, right?

  • dhistory

    The abortion and breast cancer issue is really not about abortion but rather pregnancy and breast cancer. An 18 year old who has a full term pregnancy substantially reduces her lifetime breast cancer as compared to an 18 year old who doesn’t get pregnant or who doesn’t have a full term pregnancy until much later. So the point is that continuing the pregnancy to term reduces breast cancer risk. The older the woman is the less cancer risk reducing benefit she gets from a full term pregnancy.
    So while abortion doesn’t cause breast cancer directly, full term pregnancy reduces the chance of breast cancer. So, it seems the CPC’s make that point to pregnant women as a benefit of not having an abortion. How exactly they word it or frame it of course certainly can make it sound like abortion causes breast cancer.
    Breast cancer risk calculator:
    http://www.halls.md/breast/risk.htm