On Thursday, U.S. Senators Robert Menendez, Frank R. Lautenberg, Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney introduced a bill aimed at curbing deceptive and misleading advertising practices by Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). The “Stop Deceptive Advertising For Women’s Services Act” would require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue and enforce rules prohibiting CPCs from advertising with the intent to create the impression that they provide abortion services. If passed, this bill would be a major step forward in protecting women and their health. As Representative Maloney said, “those [centers] that practice bait-and-switch should be held accountable so that pregnant women are not deceived at an extremely vulnerable time in their lives.”
CPCs often advertise under “abortion services” leading women to believe that they will be seeing an abortion provider when they visit the CPC, or, at the very least, will be seeing someone who will provide accurate information on, and referrals for, abortion care. CPCs set up shop near abortion providers and select names similar to full service clinics. CPCs frequently provide misleading information, telling women, for example, that an abortion is unlikely to be necessary because most pregnancies are not viable. The goal is to delay women until it is too late or too costly to obtain an abortion.
Women deserve to know the truth about their health care options, and not be intentionally misled. The Stop Deceptive Advertising For Women’s Services Act would be a step in the right direction. In the meantime, state consumer protection laws may also provide protection. If you or someone you know has been harmed by deceptive CPC practices, you can file a complaint with your state’s consumer protection agency.