Many states are devising bills to trick women into visiting misleading anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), either by mandating pre-abortion counseling or offering CPCs as a resource for free ultrasounds to meet legislative requirements before a termination. But Oregon is debating a bill that would have an entirely different effect on reproductive rights. State lawmakers want to ensure that CPCs offer truthful disclosures and that women who enter them are aware of the CPCs’ anti-choice agenda.
SB 490 would require CPCs in the state to disclose, both online and in their offices, what services they do and do not offer. They would have to disclose whether they offer abortion referrals and whether or not they offer contraception. Even more importantly, the bill would require CPCs to act under general health privacy guidelines, which means that “[a]n entity that collects health information from a patron of the entity may not disclose the patron’s health information to any other person without the written authorization of the patron,” according to the bill.
Protecting a client’s private medical records and disclosing which services the center provides seem like standard, uncontroversial health-care requirements. But CPC representatives disagree, calling the bill an affront to their civil rights and freedom of speech.
Via the Statesman Journal:
[O]pponents said the legislation is an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.
Dr. Claire King, a Stayton physician who spoke for and is a volunteer medical adviser at the Hope Pregnancy Clinic in Salem, defended the work of such centers.
“See this bill for what it truly is,” she said. “It is a restriction. It is a hindrance. It is not a help to excellent patient care.”
Beverly Anderson, a lawyer and executive director of the Lane Pregnancy Resource Center in Eugene, said the bill has only one goal.
“The only compelling interest behind the bill is Planned Parenthood’s desire to stop pregnancy centers from voicing an opinion different from their own,” she said.
It remains unclear how being required to follow basic medical privacy guidelines and disclose what services you offer as an alleged medical center is a “hindrance” to patient care. But it’s an argument that religious CPCs positioning themselves as health centers continue to make.
Meanwhile, a similar ordinance in Baltimore continues to wind its way through the court system and is pending in the Fourth Circuit.