California pregnancy centers that often seek to steer women away from abortion would need to provide information about reproductive services available elsewhere, including abortion, and disclose when they lack medical licenses under a bill the state Assembly passed on Tuesday.
Backed by a coalition that includes NARAL Pro-Choice and Planned Parenthood California, Assembly Bill 775 takes aim at so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” that critics say exist largely to persuade women to carry their pregnancies to term, often giving the impression of holding medical credentials that they do not possess. Lawmakers called the bill, which passed 46-25, a simple matter of informing women and protecting them from being misled.
“It’s hard to understand how those who claim to care about women find it so threatening to inform them about accessing affordable health care,” said Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, D-Marina Del Rey, the bill’s author.
Republican lawmakers derided the bill as an unconstitutional attack on private entities, saying it would force crisis pregnancy centers to abandon their core beliefs. The California Catholic Conference also opposes AB 775.
“You may not like the message that these people are putting forward, you may not like what they have to say, but they have every right under our Constitution for freedom of speech just like anyone else,” said Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield.
Editor’s Note: This post was updated at 2:59 p.m. May 26, 2015, to correct the name of the speaker in the last paragraph from Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, to Shannon Grove.