October 19, 2011 — On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to give initial approval to an ordinance that would prohibit crisis pregnancy centers from engaging in false or misleading advertising, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The measure targets limited-services pregnancy centers that do not offer contraception or abortion services or provide referrals to clinics that do (Gordon, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/19).
Supporters of the ordinance said it is needed to protect women from the centers' deceptive practices. Final passage is expected next week (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 10/18).
If approved, the ordinance would affect two CPCs in San Francisco. The centers' operators allege that the ordinance infringes on their right to free speech, and they have threatened to sue if the proposal becomes law.
Courts have blocked enforcement of similar laws in other cities. The San Francisco city attorney has advised supervisors that they would need to demonstrate a record of false and misleading advertising to present a strong legal defense. Supporters of the ordinance have produced online reviews, testimony from a physician and a statement from a woman who contacted a CPC.
Shari Plunkett, CEO of the CPC First Resort, said the center provides straightforward verbal and written information to clients about its opposition to abortion (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/19). San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has asked First Resort to clarify on its website that it does not offer abortion services (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 10/18).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership