A pro-choice victory in NYC

March 8, 2011

NEW YORK--Pro-choice activists here are celebrating a legislative victory. On March 3, the New York City Council passed Intro 371, a bill that restricts the ability of anti-choice pregnancy clinics to deceive women.

So-called "crisis pregnancy centers" advertise themselves to women facing unwanted pregnancies who are seeking options. These facilities, which are often deliberately located in close proximity to or in the same building as genuine abortion clinics, often lack any medical professionals or equipment at all.

Instead, anti-choice counselors use deception and guilt to dissuade women from seeking abortions. Crisis pregnancy center staff have been known to imply that they will provide abortions after several preliminary visits, delaying the procedure beyond the legal timeframe in which it must take place in New York.

Intro 371 requires crisis pregnancy centers to disclose the services they do and do not provide, and whether or not they have a trained medical professional on staff. It also holds crisis pregnancy centers to the same standards of confidentiality as real medical facilities. This is especially important because crisis pregnancy center workers sometimes contact pregnant women's family members in order to coerce the women not to have abortions.

Until abortion is available in regular medical facilities, pregnant women will continue to face confusion and stigma. For now, Intro 371 should be used as a model for other cities to adopt in order to protect the reproductive rights of women.

For more information about crisis pregnancy centers, visit the Crisis Pregnancy Center Watch Web site.

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