Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Baltimore Bill to Require CPCs Post Signs Saying They Don't Provide Abortions.

Since the failure in the mid- to late- 70s of Human-Rights Amendments, legislative efforts to define life as beginning at fertilization, anti-abortion activists have focused on limiting access to abortion and to direct pregnant women in crisis, sometimes with false information on the damages of abortion, toward adoption. (Other access-limiting efforts have included parental notification laws, such as the one taking effect in Illinois today.)

Kathryn Joyce recently wrote for The Nation on the coercion used by CPCs to convince expecting mothers to give their child up for adoption.

A new legislative bill in Baltimore, introduced by Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D), City Council President, would require crisis pregnancy centers there to post signs that they do not provide abortion services.

According to the BaltimoreSun:

But leaders from several pregnancy centers flatly denied that they create any confusion and said the legislation is a form of political harassment because it is so narrowly focused.

Carol Clews, who oversees one center, showed a release form and a statement of care they post in their facility. Both indicate that no abortions are performed.

"We already inform our clients in a variety of ways about the services we perform," Clews said.

Pro-choice advocates disagreed, pointing to a January 2008 report commissioned by NARAL Pro-choice Maryland Fund, where staff at pregnancy centers told NARAL investigators that abortions cause an increased risk of
breast cancer, infertility and depression. The report does not show with specificity which centers in Maryland gave out that information.

"If a woman is in a crisis and is pregnant she may be making an assumption that she may be able to find all of her options [in a center] but in fact she can't," said Keiren Havens, a Baltimore Planned Parenthood spokeswoman.

Bishop Denis J. Madden of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore said that the bill "serves no useful purpose" and was baffled about why the City Council president would raise the issue.

"With all of the concerns of our city," he said after testifying, "the City Council should choose which battles they are going to fight."

Four CPCs in Baltimore would be effected; two are funded by the Roman Catholic Church. MedicalNewsToday writes:

The Sun also included a letter to the editor by Jennifer Blasdell, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland. Blasdell wrote, "If limited service pregnancy centers in Baltimore are up front in explaining that they do not offer services or referrals for abortion or birth control, then they have nothing to worry about under this proposed ordinance." She added, "As ... Rawlings-Blake explained at the hearing, this bill is about truth in advertising. That is something we should all support" (Blasdell, Baltimore Sun, 10/28).

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