Monday, November 2, 2009

Baltimore City's CPC Bill

A Baltimore City Council panel is scheduled to vote today on a bill that would require crisis pregnancy centers to disclose their contraception/abortion services (or lack thereof) on a sign in front of the center.

The bill comes after a series of actions led by NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, whose volunteers investigated Baltimore CPCs and found the same disturbing trends found in most CPCs around the country: inaccurate information about abortion side-effects (breast cancer, depression, infertility), a lack of information or referrals for effective contraception, and overall manipulative tactics used to dissuade women from choosing abortion.

While CPC directors claim they are being unfairly targeted, those of us on the Choice side all seem to have taken a similar stance: if your center already doesn't deceive women about its services, what's the problem? If you're not claiming to be a medical clinic and never have even attempted to trick women into thinking you'd provide legitimate information on abortion, what's the big deal about displaying a sign stating such a fact?

If anything, Baltimore CPCs that tout their commitment to "help[ing] you face one of the greatest personal experiences of your life" and believe "it is important to be well-educated" should welcome such a bill with open arms, right? I mean, as has been repeated over and over by Choice advocates, "it's just a sign." A sign stating the facts... isn't that what CPCs claim to do, state the facts?

Obviously Baltimore area CPCs have more than a little to be concerned about; first the sign tells clients you don't provide contraception or abortion, then what? Soon people will start to realize that the information you give out is anything but unbiased. Pregnancy Center West, for example:
  • claims that "women who undergo one or more induced abortions carry a significantly increased risk of delivering prematurely in the future. Premature delivery is associated with higher rates of cerebral palsy, as well as other complications of prematurity (brain, respiratory, bowel, and eye problems)." The source of this "fact" is, a CPC referral site that cites outdated and methodologically-unsound research to hype the supposed risks of abortion. Comprehensive studies suggest there is no direct connection between abortion and breast cancer, infertility, or psychological trauma.
  • will not diagnose a pregnancy via ultrasound until 8 weeks LMP, a clear attempt at delaying a woman's decisions and limiting the kind of abortion procedure she could choose. Pregnancy is detectable by ultrasound around 4-5 weeks LMP.
  • claims that emergency contraception (the "morning after pill") can "abort" a baby. This dangerous claim can only harm women, since women who are opposed to abortion will be hesitant to access EC as a last-resort measure to prevent pregnancy. In truth, EC does not cause an abortion because it prevents pregnancy from beginning in the first place; it has no effect on an established pregnancy.
  • highlights the dangers of many STDs while providing absolutely no comprehensive information on preventing them other than abstaining from sexual activity all together.
If CPCs like Pregnancy Center West are pushing such biased and incomplete information about sexual health and pregnancy options, the public needs to know. Investigations by NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland reveal even more disturbing trends from inside the doors of Baltimore area CPCs.

If you are a Baltimore City resident, it may be too late to contact your councilmembers at this time, but I would recommend staying up to date with NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland as they continue to expose the tactics and biases of nearby crisis pregnancy centers. For now, let's hope the panel votes in favor of the Limited-Service Pregnancy Centers Disclaimers Bill.

No comments: