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City of Baltimore Enacts Ordinance Targeting Pregnancy Care Centers

On Monday night, the Baltimore City Council, by a vote of 12 to 3, approved an ordinance requiring pregnancy care centers (PCCs) to posts signs indicating that they do not do abortions or provide contraception.  Failure to comply with the ordinance will incur a $150 per day fine.  A proposed amendment to require abortion clinics to post relevant disclaimers was defeated.

In recent years, Maryland has become “ground zero” for attempts by NARAL and other abortion advocates to lodge false accusations about PCCs and to encourage vindictive and unsupported legislative “fixes” to non-existent problems at PCCs.  In 2008, the Maryland legislature considered Senate Bill 690 (and its companion, House Bill 1146) which would have required all state PCCs to inform women that they do not perform abortions and provide “incorrect information” about the negative impact of abortion on women.  Thankfully, this state-wide threat to PCCs was defeated.

However, in addition to the just-approved Baltimore ordinance, Montgomery County Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg recently introduced an ordinance there that would require PCCs to inform women that information and advice that they receive at PCCs is not “medical advice” and does not “establish a doctor-patient relationship.” Moreover, women would be encouraged to go elsewhere for medical advice.  Although claiming that the measure is for “consumer protection,” Trachtenberg admits to buying into pro-abortion rhethoric that PCCs intentionally mislead women.

The situation in Maryland highlights the need for a full understanding of some common pro-abortion “myths” about PCCs:

Myth:  Pregnancy care centers provide medically-inaccurate information to women.
Fact:  PCCs distribute medically accurate information regarding fetal development, pregnancy, and the risks – physical and mental – of abortion.  All information used and distributed by approved providers is medically accurate, recently published, and includes citations to legitimate authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), medical journals, and other reputable sources.

If there is medical debate regarding whether or not abortion carries particular risks (e.g., the abortion-breast cancer link), information on this conflict is brought to the attention of the woman and is not hidden or withheld from her.

Myth:  PCC personnel are poorly or inadequately trained.
Fact:  PCC staff and volunteers are appropriately trained for the services they provide.  Those PCCs that offer ultrasounds and/or other medical services hire medically-trained staff and comply with state and federal regulations regarding licensing and certification.

Myth:  PCCs engage in false advertising, misleading women into believing they provide abortions and abortion counseling.
Fact:  Advertising by PCCs is honest and discloses to women the types of services provided by the centers.  Most PCCs, including those affiliated with national organizations such as Birthright International and CareNet, have strict standards of integrity regarding truth in advertising and require the full disclosure of the types of services provided.

Pregnancy care centers are most often listed under “Abortion Alternatives” in the Yellow Pages or other telephone directories. In many areas, it is the Yellow Pages publisher who determines how to categorize PCCs.  PCCs do not advertise under names such as “Abortion Services.”

Myth:  PCC personnel are judgmental and do not provide a woman with counseling on “all her reproductive care options.”
Fact:  PCCs provide women with compassionate and confidential counseling in a nonjudgmental manner regardless of their pregnancy outcomes.  Women who have used the services of a PCC reported a 98% positive effect, including 71% who had a very positive effect, according to a survey of 630 women conducted by the Wirthlin Group.  Of those women who were aware of PCCs, 87% believed they have a positive impact on the women they serve, including a majority of those who identified themselves as “pro-choice.”

Upon reflection, there is no better indicator of the positive impact that PCCs are having by supporting women emotionally and financially, by protecting women from the adverse health consequences of abortion, and by helping to reduce the number of abortions performed each year than the vitriol directed toward these centers by pro-abortion advocacy groups and individuals. These groups refer to them as “fake centers” and produce and market kits for activists to target and expose pregnancy care centers with negative publicity and protests.  Even they, in their zeal to promote abortion-on-demand, cannot ignore the very real and increasingly powerful impact pregnancy care centers are having on women and on public opinion about abortion.

For more information about the positive impact of PCCs, see “Pregnancy Care Centers: On the Frontline in the Cause for Life.”