August 22, 2016 — A California-based crisis pregnancy center (CPC) that was noncompliant with a state law aiming to curb such facilities' misinformation last week agreed to follow the regulations, the Los Angeles Times "L.A. Now" reports (Evans, "L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 8/18).
Background on law
The Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act took effect Jan. 1. The law, 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 law requires licensed facilities that provide services related to pregnancy and family planning to let women know how and where they can access affordable and timely abortion, contraception and prenatal care services.
Further, the law 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 are 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."
CPCs that do not comply with the law are subject to a $500 fine for the first offense and a $1,000 penalty for any offense thereafter. The state attorney general, county councils and city attorneys have the authority to enforce the law.
L.A. city attorney warns CPCs of noncompliance
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer's office issued notices of violation on July 15 and July 18 to three CPCs: Harbor Pregnancy Help Center, Los Angeles Pregnancy Services and Pregnancy Counseling Center.
In one of the notices, Feuer wrote, "Our investigation reveals that your facility failed to post the required onsite notice anywhere at your facility and that your facility failed to distribute the required notice either through a printed document or digitally."
The CPCs had 30 days from when the notices were issued to come into compliance with the law or face the financial penalties for violation (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/29). An investigation conducted at the 30-day deadline found that Pregnancy Counseling Center had not yet come into compliance.
Feuer said of the non-compliant CPC, "They weren't apprising clients of key information regarding the availability of contraception, abortion, family planning or other services that are available free of charge to people in California [who] can qualify on an income basis." He added, "It would be ... important to know if such services were available."
Following warning, CPC agrees to comply
Feuer's office moved to file a legal challenge against the Pregnancy Counseling Center after the CPC failed to come into compliance with the law by the Aug. 14 deadline.
Feuer's office also warned the CPC that the city would seek a temporary restraining order to mandate immediate compliance with the FACT Act. Feuer said, "The reason for the urgency in my view is that when a woman is desperately seeking the kind of counseling that would lead them to come to one of these centers, it is imperative that she has full information about her reproductive choices."
However, on Tuesday, the CPC's counsel notified Feuer's office that the organization would make the required changes. An investigation conducted on Wednesday confirmed that the CPC had come into compliance with the law ("L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 8/18).