March 2, 2011 — The following summarizes recent editorials reacting to legislation in New York and Virginia.
~ New York Times: "The New York City Council is about to vote on, and should pass, an important measure that addresses the problem of crisis pregnancy centers that masquerade as licensed medical facilities but are, in fact, fronts for antiabortion groups that interfere with the ability of women to make timely, well-informed decisions about their reproductive health," the Times writes. "Approving the measure by a wide margin would aid women in New York City and perhaps inspire other cities" to stop such centers from creating "a phony impression that they are licensed medical facilities" and drawing "women in with advertising that appears to promise neutral abortion counseling," the editorial states. The bill (Int. 371), sponsored by council member Jessica Lappin, council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, "would provide a modest, though important, measure of consumer protection" by requiring that crisis pregnancy centers "disclose in their ads and in signs posted in their waiting rooms whether they have a licensed medical provider supervising services and whether they provide or make referrals for prenatal care, abortion and emergency contraception," according to the Times. The measure also would require that all personal and health information collected at the centers “be subject to confidentiality rules, with penalties imposed for unauthorized disclosures," the editorial says (New York Times, 3/2).
~ Washington Post: Virginia Republican lawmakers used "legislative gimmickry" to push a bill (SB 924) through the commonwealth's General Assembly that "reclassifies health centers that perform abortions as hospitals" and subjects them to the Commonwealth Board of Health regulations, a Post editorial states. According to the Post, "Principled opponents of abortion have options to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, including broadening access to contraception, promoting adoption and pushing abstinence-focused education." However, Virginia Republicans pushed "a different tack," seeking to regulate abortion clinics more stringently than other outpatient facilities, the Post writes. The editorial criticizes the "emergency timetable" given to the Board of Health "to decide which regulations should cover abortion clinics" and to develop new regulations that "would probably result in the closure of most of the clinics." The editorial concludes, "Why the rush? Given the stakes, and the widespread public interest, there's no imaginable reason that the board shouldn't proceed at a pace that allows for extensive public comment and careful consideration of what would be a new regulatory regime" (Washington Post, 3/2).