Dennis Herrera Throws Down: Teams Up With Supervisor Malia Cohen to Battle Bogus “Crisis Pregnancy Centers”

[UPDATE: Heather Knight has some useful details, particularly about a woman who named her child after a book from the Old Testament / Torah. OK fine.]

San Francisco City Attorney and mayoral candidate Dennis Jose Herrera held a presser this AM along with District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen, District 3 Supervisor and mayoral candidate David Chiu, and District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener regarding Malia’s new legislation about “crisis pregnancy centers.”

All the deets are below.

But you make the call:

What the Hell is this?

And check this photo from famous Steve Rhodes.

And guess who was there at City Hall this morning? Some Catholic League types, or Catholic reporters, something like that.

(It will be interesting to see how a few particular Supes vote on this one…)

Click to expand

Cohen, Herrera take on S.F. ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ for deceptive marketing tactics

Proposed ordinance, City Attorney demand letter target misleading advertising by centers that push hidden agenda for ‘abortion free world’

SAN FRANCISCO (Aug. 2, 2011) — Supervisor Malia Cohen and City Attorney Dennis Herrera today announced joint legal and legislative steps to halt deceptive marketing by so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” in San Francisco, which purport to offer non-judgmental abortion services and counseling to women with unwanted pregnancies, but that instead push an anti-abortion agenda on those seeking constitutionally protected medical services. Cohen and Herrera announced their initiatives at a City Hall press conference this morning.

Cohen’s legislation, which she will introduce at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, is entitled the “Pregnancy Information Disclosure and Protection Ordinance.” If enacted, Cohen’s measure would explicitly prohibit limited services pregnancy centers in San Francisco from making false or misleading statements to the public about pregnancy-related services that the centers offer. While some crisis pregnancy centers openly acknowledge their pro-life advocacy, many misleadingly target women in search of abortion services though false advertising — and then employ manipulative and fear mongering tactics on their visitors to dissuade them from obtaining abortions. Crisis pregnancy centers commonly offer few services other than anti-abortion rhetoric, but the proliferation of Internet search engines has given anti-abortion centers an effective way to misrepresent themselves as bona fide clinics, offering prominent paid links in response to search queries for “abortion” and related terms within their region.

“One of the most serious threats to reproductive rights today comes from so-called ‘crisis pregnancy centers,’ which misrepresent themselves as non-political medical providers, but that push anti-abortion propaganda and mistruths on unsuspecting women,” said Cohen. “The legislation that will be introduced today would prohibit these limited services pregnancy centers in San Francisco from misleading the public about the services they perform. It’s a measured, thoughtful approach that balances the free speech rights of anti-abortion activists with constitutionally protected reproductive rights for women. I appreciate City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office working with me to craft a policy to protect women in San Francisco, while minimizing possible legal risks.”

In tandem with Cohen’s legislation, Herrera took a first step today toward a possible legal action under California law against San Francisco’s most egregiously misleading crisis pregnancy center, First Resort, Inc. Herrera’s demand letter to the anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center in the medical building at 450 Sutter Street expressed serious concerns about the veracity of the center’s print advertising and Internet marketing, which imply to prospective clients that First Resort offers abortion services or referrals to abortion providers — when it in fact does neither.

Herrera’s letter notes that First Resort has purchased paid Google advertisements to secure top placement in search results for abortion providers in San Francisco. Moreover, the letter details several of First Resort’s public representations to prospective clients that are false and misleading, and which contrast starkly with the organization’s stated purpose — as revealed in its state licensing documents — to achieve “an abortion-free world.”

“First Resort is certainly entitled to advocate for ‘an abortion-free world’ to anyone who wants to hear it, but the center is breaking the law by misrepresenting itself as an abortion provider for the purpose of luring women with unwanted pregnancies to its office,” Herrera said. “This is an insidious practice that victimizes women who are, in some instances, already victims. It’s especially problematic because the delays these centers can cause interfere with women’s time-sensitive, constitutionally protected right to reproductive choice. I’ve taken this step to demand that First Resort clarify its purpose in accordance with state law. Moreover, I applaud Supervisor Malia Cohen for her leadership to further tighten restrictions on this unethical practice here in San Francisco.”

And see what NARAL Pro Choice California has to say about all this after the jump

“NARAL Pro-Choice California Supports San Francisco Ordinance to Help Protect Bay Area Women from Deceptive Tactics of Crisis Pregnancy Centers

New legislation would protect San Francisco women from deceptive advertising of anti-choice fake clinics and prevent anti-choice organizations from posing as comprehensive medical clinics

San Francisco, CA (August 2, 2011) – NARAL Pro-Choice California is proud to support an ordinance introduced today in San Francisco that would protect women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy.

The ordinance, introduced by San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen, is an important step in the fight to require honest advertising by so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) that use deceitful marketing practices to target pregnant women seeking comprehensive medical advice.

“Crisis pregnancy centers are a serious threat to women’s health,” said Amy Everitt, NARAL Pro-Choice California state director. “By posing as legitimate medical clinics that offer a full range of reproductive-health services, these fake clinics often lie and manipulate women who are facing unplanned pregnancies. I applaud Supervisor Cohen for her work on this important issue, and urge the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to support Cohen’s ordinance.”

NARAL Pro-Choice California has conducted extensive research on CPCs in the state, and published an extensive report entitled “Unmasking Fake Clinics: the Truth about Crisis Pregnancy Centers in California,” NARAL Pro-Choice California has conducted For more information about crisis pregnancy centers in California, the NARAL Pro-Choice California report entitled “Unmasking Fake Clinics: the Truth about Crisis Pregnancy Centers in California” can be found at the following address: http://www.prochoicecalifornia.org/assets/files/cpcreport2010-revisednov2010.pdf
which can be viewed at the NARAL Pro-Choice California website. NARAL Pro-Choice America has been supportive of similar local legislation designed to hold CPCs accountable in New York, Texas, and Maryland cities. To learn more about the threat that CPCs pose nationwide, the NARAL Pro-Choice America fact sheet entitled “The Truth About Crisis Pregnancy Centers” can be found at the following address: http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/media/fact-sheets/abortion-cpcs.pdf

Public Affairs Manager
NARAL Pro-Choice California
111 Pine Street, Suite 1500
San Francisco, CA 94111

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