October 13, 2015 — California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) last week signed a bill (AB 775) that aims to prohibit crisis pregnancy centers from disseminating certain misleading information, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The law is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2016. Meanwhile, two CPCs on Saturday filed suit over the law (Walsh, Sacramento Bee, 10/11).
The new law comes after an undercover investigation by NARAL Pro-Choice California found that CPCs provide pregnant women with misleading and false information.
There are about 200 CPCs in California, and many of them are not licensed to provide medical care. The centers often operate through private funding, while some receive federal funding that has been set aside for abstinence education programs.
Details of Legislation
The California measure, which was introduced by Assembly members David Chiu (D) and Autumn Burke (D), expands protections in a 2011 San Francisco ordinance (212-11) that bars CPCs from disseminating misleading information.
The legislation requires licensed facilities that provide services related to pregnancy and family planning to let women know about how and where they could access affordable and timely abortion, contraception and prenatal care services.
Further, the legislation requires unlicensed facilities that provide pregnancy- and family planning-related services to tell patients the facilities are not licensed and that they have no staff members who are licensed providers. Such facilities will be required to disseminate a notice to patients at the facility and in any digital or print advertising materials stating, "This facility is not licensed as a medical facility by the State of California and has no licensed medical provider who provides or directly supervises the provision of services" (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/27).
CPCs that do not comply with the law will be subject to a $500 fine for the first offense and a $1,000 penalty for any offense thereafter. The state attorney general, county counsels and city attorneys will have the authority to enforce the law.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) said the legislation "ensures that all women have equal access to comprehensive reproductive health care services, and that they have the facts they need to make informed decisions about their health and their lives."
Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said, "Anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers are ground-zero in the fight for reproductive freedom, and Gov. Brown and the California Legislature can be proud of leading the first successful statewide effort to ensure that no woman is tricked into walking through doors of a [CPC] to be manipulated and shamed again."
Similarly, NARAL Pro-Choice California Director Amy Everitt called the legislation "historic" and said it "sets (a) precedent for (the) nation," adding, "This is what it looks like to respect women: Empower us and trust us to make the best decisions for ourselves and our families."
CPCs File Lawsuit
Immediately after Brown signed the measure into law, two religiously-affiliated CPCs -- A Woman's Friend Pregnancy Resource Clinic in Marysville and Crisis Pregnancy Center of Northern California in Redding -- filed a lawsuit requesting a temporary injunction to stop the law from taking effect.
The two CPCs claim the law violates their rights to free speech and their exercise of religion under the First Amendment (Sacramento Bee, 10/11).