Last year, San Francisco became the first city in California to go after crisis pregnancy centers, faith-based non-profits that are often purposely vague about the services they offer in hopes of luring in pregnant women who expect to hear non-biased information about all of their options, but instead receive anti-choice rhetoric.
After San Francisco's supervisors introduced a bill that would force centers to make it clear that they don't directly offer or provide referrals to clients for abortions or emergency contraception — that means no more of those creepy "Pregnant? Scared? Alone? We can help!" billboards, for example — First Resort, a crisis pregnancy center listed under OB/GYN services in one of San Francisco's largest medical buildings, sued the city for allegedly violating their civil rights by enforcing the 2011 ordinance.
First Resort — which is run by people who have expressed, on the record, their goal "to make abortion unnecessary in the Bay Area" — claimed that the ordinance could apply "to virtually any speech made by First Resort, including statements made to its financial supporters for fundraising purposes" and that it was therefore unconstitutional.
To which the judge said: Bullshit!
From Courthouse News Service:
The court tossed First Resort's five argument that the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague, which can only be upheld if a person of common intelligence "must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application."
[Judge Saundra Brown] Armstrong noted that First Resort "ignored" provisions that state the purpose of the ordinance is to prevent false and misleading advertising regarding services and counseling provided or not provided and that any center cited under the ordinance would get a chance to cure the "false, misleading or deceptive advertising."
The judge ruled that a "person of common intelligence could discern that the conduct proscribed by the ordinance is false and misleading advertising, and not simply any statement made by the limited services pregnancy center."
First Resort had hoped to follow in the footsteps of CPCs in cities such as New York City, Baltimore and Austin, which have all tried to pass laws to prevent similar acts of false advertising but have, thus far, been successfully barred from doing so by centers that claim they have a constitutional right to mislead women. It looks like San Francisco will be the first city to officially force crisis pregnancy centers to be upfront about the services they actually provide — and, therefore, their intentions. Awesome.
Judge Upholds Most of Abortion Services Law [Courthouse News Service]
(Image via First Resort.)