“I have met thousands and thousands of pro-choice men and women. I have never met anyone who is pro-abortion.”
How timely Hillary’s quote is, considering that last fall, the San Francisco City Board of Supervisors voted to pass an ordinance prohibiting crisis pregnancy centers from engaging in misleading advertising. One of the most common false statements issued from crisis pregnancy centers is that Planned Parenthood, or groups such as Citizens for Choice, are ‘pro-abortion’.
Crisis pregnancy centers, according to the ordinance, routinely advertise that they offer comprehensive pregnancy services, including those for pre and post abortion counseling. The implication is that they provide education to clients about all choices available to them. In fact, many crisis pregnancy centers fail to inform that they don’t actually offer any abortion services or referrals to abortion providers, until such time as the client is in their clinic undergoing ‘counseling’. It is this type of omission that is the basis for the claim that centers mislead through false advertising.
The United States District Court for Northern California will be hearing a case in which First Resort, Inc. a ‘Crisis Pregnancy Center’, has filed a lawsuit claiming that the recently passed ordinance is a violation of their right to free speech.
The court typically takes a dim view of misleading advertising, including false claims. Expressing an opinion, or viewpoint, is a constitutional right enjoyed by each of us, and is protected by the First Amendment. Whether or not one is pro-choice or deeply opposed to abortion is a personal decision.
What should not be protected by the First Amendment are false claims, especially those that purport ‘scientific proof’ of an opinion. Some egregious examples of claims and actions made by Crisis Pregnancy Centers:
- 30 percent of women who get abortions die within the first year due to complications. (In fact, the risk of death from childbirth in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy is 11 times greater than that of abortion – after 20 weeks, the risk is the same).
- At one CPC technicians tap out “messages” from unborn babies (“hi mommy and daddy”) as they perform ultrasounds, making the inference that the first trimester fetus can recognize and even speak to its parents.
- A Jewish woman who posed as a pregnant woman as part of an investigation was told at five centers that she wouldn’t go to heaven unless she converted to Christianity.
- One center told the caller that there is an “extremely high, increased risk of breast cancer” that “can be as much as an 80% increase depending upon how the risk factors fall into place.” (The National Institute of Health finds no connection whatsoever between abortion and any kind of cancer)
- 91% of “services” at Planned Parenthood in 2010 were abortions. (The actual number is 3%)
- The ‘morning after’ pill causes abortion. (The fact is that it merely prevents conception from occurring at all)
First Amendment rights must always be protected. However, abuse of facts while attempting to hide behind constitutional law should never be tolerated in a civilized society. Many religious – based ‘pregnancy centers’ use the term ‘moral obligation’. In what way is it ‘moral’ to make up false statements and call them facts? In my experience, that is called lying.
We will be closely following this case in the United States District Court, and will update our readers as we get more information.
Visit www.citizensforchoice.org for more information on low or no-cost birth control, information about reproductive justice and more.
Frederika Zylstra is a professional copywriter with The Written Word Professional Copywriting, and is the Word Wizard for Wild Women for Business. One of her many hats is writing blogs for business and non-profits.