A proposed law being considered in the California State Assembly would force anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers to post signs letting their clients know that they’re not medical facilities. Anti-abortion groups are predictably pissed, claiming the measure is “bullying” and, as Heartbeat International put it, “carrying the water for Big Abortion.”
AB 775, also known as the Reproductive FACT Act, sponsored by Assembly members David Chiu and Autumn R. Burke, would require a crisis pregnancy center to disclose that they’re not there to provide medical care because they in fact cannot. From the bill text:
This bill would enact the Reproductive FACT (Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency) Act, which would require a licensed covered facility, as defined, to disseminate a notice to all clients, as specified, stating, among other things, that California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services, prenatal care, and abortion, for eligible women.
The bill would also require an unlicensed covered facility, as defined, to disseminate a notice to all clients, as specified, stating, among other things, that the facility is not licensed as a medical facility by the State of California.
In other words, if you’re in a medical facility, you’ll be told about your options for low-cost healthcare; if you’re in a place where people are so untrained they might mistake your IUD for a fetus, you’ll be told that’s where you are.
As Think Progress points out, the bill is spurring a remarkable amount of whining from anti-abortion groups, who traditionally oppose anything that might make it harder for them to actively deceive the women coming through their doors. In this case, they’re (falsely) insisting that the bill requires referrals to abortion clinics, or else dubbing the law a “bully bill” and implying it’s because the Assembly members behind it are in the pockets of what they literally call Big Abortion. Jor-El Godsey, the vice president of one of the largest CPC funders, Heartbeat International, told LifeNews, “Surely, legislators in California have more important matters to attend to than carrying the water for Big Abortion, which is exactly what this proposed legislation represent. This is a direct attack on California’s grassroots, non-profit pregnancy help centers. These legislators should instead protect the right of every woman to get the love and care she deserves while she is facing pregnancy.”
Crisis pregnancy centers — or pregnancy help centers, or pregnancy care centers, or “life-affirming centers,” or any of the new, fuzzy terms they’re using for themselves — have always opposed regulations that might force them to admit they’re not medical facilities. The results have been mixed: In Austin, an ordinance requiring CPCs to post signs disclosing they’re not medical facilities was struck down in 2014, after a long legal battle; however, the Supreme Court upheld a similar law in New York.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris has signed on to support the Reproductive FACT Act. In the meantime, NARAL Pro-Choice California released a fun video of testimony on the bill from a few weeks ago. In the video, anti-abortion California Assembly member Donald P. Wagner demands of fellow Assembly member Autumn Burke, the co-sponsor of the FACT act, “Why is abortion so important to you people?”
“What is it about that procedure that’s so important to you?” Wagner adds, sounding disgusted.
“First of all, we’re not ‘you people,’” Burke responds. “ ‘You people,’ is not appropriate, I don’t believe, for this forum. And the second thing is, because it’s my constitutional right. As a woman I’ve earned that right. It’s the law.”
Assembly member Autumn Burke making a stank face as Wagner refers to her as “you people.” Screengrab via NARAL/YouTube