Targeting of crisis pregnancy centers draws sharp criticism

Washington D.C., May 31, 2013 / 02:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A bill introduced in congress allowing the Federal Trade Commission to investigate crisis pregnancy centers has sparked a fiery reaction that abortion clinics warrant far greater scrutiny.

“It's outrageous to target generous people who are out there to give women a real choice,” Maureen Ferguson, senior policy adviser for The Catholic Association, told CNA May 30.

The bill was introduced in the U.S. House by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who argued that women “shouldn't be deliberately misled or coerced when they seek legitimate medical services.”

Crisis pregnancy centers “that practice bait-and-switch should be held accountable so that pregnant women are not deceived at an extremely vulnerable time in their lives,” the congresswoman said.

The measure was presented on May 16 by Rep. Maloney and 12 co-sponsors. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) also introduced to the senate a version of the bill, which has garnered public support from the National Abortion Federation NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Earlier versions of the bill were introduced to the House in 2011 and 2012. The legislation will allow the Federal Trade Commission to investigate advertising that implies an organization performs abortion when it does not, or who says it does not provide abortion when, in fact, it does.

Upon his introduction of the companion bill, Sen. Menendez remarked that nobody “should ever be subjected to misleading information when they are seeking health care, especially during pregnancy.”

“We have worked too hard to expand the availability of women's health care services to have any confusion created by those who would deliberately deceive a woman to suit their own purposes.”

On the charge that crisis pregnancy centers pressure and mislead women, “exactly the opposite is true,” Ferguson countered.  

Abortion clinics, rather, “are pressuring women to take the life of their child and they're making money off of it.” These facilities, she argued, “fight informed consent laws,” advocate for minors having access to abortion, and actively try to mislead the public and parents.

Ferguson added that Sen. Menedez and Rep. Maloney “have a long history of abortion advocacy,” and that it is “highly hypocritical for these members of congress in the name of choice to be harassing volunteers trying to provide women with a real choice.”

Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States, has claimed that only 3 percent of its services are abortions. However, because Planned Parenthood counts every test and action within an appointment as a separate procedure, the percentage of abortion-related procedures performed by the organization is much higher.

According to Abby Johnson, former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas, 98 percent of Planned Parenthood's services to pregnant women are abortion.

In 2012, Planned Parenthood was criticized for implying that it provides mammograms to women during its breast screenings. Following a statement by President Barack Obama stating that women “rely” on Planned Parenthood for mammograms, the organization admitted that it does not directly provide the service.

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