Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has been quite angry ever since the overturn of Roe v. Wade. In particular, Warren is angry about the ability of pregnancy resource centers to advertise and operate free of restrictions.
To combat what she sees as fake abortion clinics set up to “fool” and “torture” unsuspecting women, Warren has joined with Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., and Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., to introduce the Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act.
This legislation would, in Warren’s words, “crackdown on false advertising that crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) employ to dissuade patients from getting the reproductive care they need” by authorizing the Federal Trade Commission to regulate and fine pregnancy resource centers.
Warren and her colleagues are not alone in their efforts to “crack down” on pregnancy resource centers. New York City’s Introduction 506, part of the proposed NYC Abortion and Reproductive Health Care Rights Legislative Package would implement a requirement for “the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) to report information on pregnancy services centers in the city and implement an information campaign on such centers.”
Many more cities, including Seattle, Los Angeles, and Columbus, Ohio, have worked toward passing similar laws in the past month.
While these bills allege that pregnancy resource centers are deceptive and employ manipulative advertising tactics, the tactics they describe are much more like those employed by Planned Parenthood.
Pregnancy resource centers do not pretend to be abortion facilities. But they do advertise, online and in the community, for the services they provide, which include unplanned pregnancy counseling as well as a variety of resources and services, free of charge, to both pregnant mothers and families with babies and small children.
Planned Parenthood, however, uses tactics akin to the ones deemed questionable by the Stop Anti-Abortion Misinformation Act. For instance, in Section 2.3, the bill claims, “CPCs routinely engage in a variety of deceptive tactics” surrounding “reproductive healthcare.”
If the counseling services at pregnancy resource centers are “deceptive,” then Planned Parenthood’s services ought to raise even more questions. Planned Parenthood regularly tells women that their babies are “clumps of cells” or “not babies yet” and then refuses to let them see their ultrasounds, so they can’t evaluate those claims for themselves.
Furthermore, Planned Parenthood has a history of deceiving the law and the public. Investigative journalists working with the nonprofit Live Action have exposed Planned Parenthood locations breaking laws regarding the reporting of human trafficking and statutory rape.
In 2015, the Center for Medical Progress also conducted investigations uncovering Planned Parenthood’s unlawful involvement in the sale of human remains from abortions.
The Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act also claims that “CPCs target under-resourced neighborhoods and communities of color, including Black, Latino, Indigenous, Asian American, Pacific Islander, and immigrant communities” in where they choose to locate. If this is problematic, then there should be equal concern about the location of Planned Parenthood facilities, which target both minority communities and communities with low economic resources.
As shown in a previous study conducted by Students for Life of America, Planned Parenthood facilities are often located near college campuses and advertise to young women who are likely to have limited resources and unplanned pregnancies.
It should be even more alarming that, as shown by the 2015 congressional policy report
“The Effects of Abortion on the Black Community,” 79 percent of Planned Parenthoods are located near minority neighborhoods, and preborn black babies are aborted at disproportionately high rates.
Planned Parenthood has even stated on its website that it is “committed to increasing access” to abortion services for black women. In an investigation conducted by Live Action, multiple Planned Parenthood facilities agreed to accept funds from a caller posing as a racist donor wanting to give money specifically to abort more black babies. These incidents are especially disturbing given Planned Parenthood’s roots in eugenics.
Currently, pregnancy resource centers and Federally Qualified Health Centers that provide free services outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics 14 to 1. Changing laws and attitudes about abortion in the wake of Dobbs has been taking a toll on Planned Parenthood as facilities in some states discontinue abortions or close.
If these trends continue, pregnancy resource centers could eventually replace Planned Parenthood as the mainstream solution to unplanned pregnancies, with or without regulatory efforts to marginalize them. This is a good thing for women and their children, who will have better access to everything they need to thrive instead of becoming victims of the abortion industry.
The efforts to use legislation to silence pregnancy resource centers are not about protecting women or holding organizations accountable for deceptive tactics. They are an attack on First Amendment rights and a concerted effort from politicians and bureaucrats who act in the interests of the abortion industry.
These people want to protect organizations like Planned Parenthood from being replaced by pregnancy resource centers as state laws and public opinion on abortion shift.