Public Health Committee to Hold Public Hearing on Legislation Detrimental to Pro-life Pregnancy Resource Centers in Connecticut
Please help the centers oppose the legislation by emailing the members of the committee or attending the hearing to show support for the centers.
The Public Hearing is scheduled for Monday, March 9th, in room 1D of the Legislative Office Building, beginning at 10:30 am.
Urge the Committee members to Vote "NO" on S..B. 144 "An Act Concerning Deceptive Advertising Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers". Click on the link below or at the end of this email to send them an email. You may edit the pre-written email with your own comments..
S.B. 144 is based on completely inaccurate and misleading information about pregnancy resource centers in our state and is part of a national campaign to discredit the work that these centers perform. This legislation is not actually driven by concerns over false and misleading advertising, but by an ideological conflict between pregnancy resource centers, that do not provide abortion services, and centers that do provide or refer for abortions. The word "abortion" is the linchpin in determining who is covered by this proposed legislation and who is not.
The clients pregnancy resource centers in Connecticut encounter are mostly by referrals from other clients, family members, and other social service agencies. A small portion of the clients come from advertising. The high number of referrals shows that people in the community support and trust the pregnancy resource centers. If these centers practiced any of the dubious activities that proponents of S.B. 144 claim the referral numbers would be drastically lower.
This proposed legislation exists primarily due to an ideological conflict between the pregnancy resource centers and the organizations who support this legislation, such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood. Proof of this statement can be found in Section 1(7) where limited services pregnancy center is defined as centers that do not provide referrals for abortions or emergency contraception. This automatically excludes any center, such as Planned Parenthood centers, from being covered by this proposed legislation because they perform or refer for abortions. If any pregnancy care center in Connecticut added abortion referrals to its list of services it to would no longer be covered by this proposed legislation. If this proposed bill is adopted, the state would be incorporating "viewpoint discrimination" into state law, opening the legislation up to a federal court challenge.
Additionally, what constitutes false advertising is not clearly defined in this legislation, making centers vulnerable to harassing legal suits which would exhaust financial resources so badly needed to aid the women and children they serve.
Finally, legal actions across the nation over the past several years have almost entirely ruled these type of laws unconstitutional. In several of these court cases, lack of substantiated evidence of the harm done to women was one of the major reasons the courts ruled against the laws. In other words, just like in Connecticut, there has been a complete lack of evidence that the centers are intentionally misleading women.
Please oppose S.B. 144 - Help preserve a true choice for women facing an unplanned pregnancy in Connecticut.
Summary of Major Flaws in S.B. 144:
1) The proposed legislation is extremely narrow and only affects centers that do not refer or perform abortions. This is specifically stated in the proposed bill. The language appears to promote viewpoint discrimination, which is unconstitutional, and was cited by other courts across the nation that have overturned similar legislation. Under this legislation, if a pregnancy care center began referring women for abortions the proposed law would no longer apply to them. The legislation does not apply to the 17 Planned Parenthood Centers in Connecticut because they refer for abortions. No state in the country has successfully enacted similar legislation. The laws in California and Hawaii have been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
2) What constitutes deceptive advertising under the proposed legislation is not defined and open to interpretation. The legislation leaves what constitutes deceptive advertising open to broad interpretation. Proponents of the legislation have stated they believe even a sign that says "Pregnant, Need Help, Call " is deceptive advertising because pro-life pregnancy care centers that use that phrase do not offer abortions.
3) The proposed legislation gives the Attorney General excessive power to take legal action against pregnancy care centers. Who determines what is deceptive advertising under the law? The Attorney General. Does there have to be a complaint filed by a prospective client? No, the Attorney General can act on his own or at the encouragement of pro-abortion advocacy groups, such as NARAL.