By Doug Porter
This week the State Senate voted 23-14 to approve Assembly Bill 775, the Reproductive FACT Act, sending it on to Gov. Jerry Brown. Backed by a coalition that includes National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) Pro-Choice and Planned Parenthood California, AB 775 takes aim at the 200 plus so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) statewide.
The groups supporting the bill say the CPCs spread medical misinformation aimed at manipulating women to keep them from accessing abortion care. Unlicensed facilities providing pregnancy-related services would be required to prominently display and include in their advertising a statement that clarifies that they are not medical facilities licensed by the state of California.
An undercover investigation by NARAL earlier this year found that 91% of CPCs visited falsely linked abortion with health problems like breast cancer, infertility, depression and even death.
Pro-choice groups say these clinics often advertise as if they provide abortion services, drawing people in by promising free reproductive health services, including free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and options counseling. They also assert that CPCs typically obscure their funding by national anti-choice umbrella organizations.
A Classic Mix of Slut-Shaming and Fearmongering
Alex Ronan, reporting on the NARAL investigation at New York Magazine, observed:
CPC employees ignored serious health issues the investigators presented, and offered no support to women when they disclosed a fear of abuse. When one investigator presented with a wanted pregnancy but admitted she was worried about her partner and his increasingly abusive tendencies, the staff didn’t ask whether she was safe or had a safe place to go. (Domestic violence is the greatest threat to both the mother and baby’s health during pregnancy.)
The CPCs did, however, offer a classic mix of slut-shaming and fearmongering. One investigator, who asked how she might prevent unintended pregnancies in the future, was told, “in order to not get pregnant, it would be best to stop whoring around.”
In RH Reality Check, Amanda Marcotte wrote:
It’s tempting, in the spirit of fair-mindedness, to wonder if perhaps all this lying is unintentional and the result of conservatives deceiving themselves as much as the women they target. When it comes to some of the false information they give about the risks of abortion and contraception, that’s certainly possible. As with climate change denialism, there are certainly conservatives who wish something was true so much they talk themselves into believing it.
But while self-deception could certainly play a role in choosing to spread falsehoods such as “abortion causes breast cancer” or “buying a condom is like buying a bag of balloons and expecting that not one will have a hole in it,” it is clear that some of the practices CPCs engage in are intentionally underhanded. When you put on a lab coat and try to trick a woman into thinking you’re a medical worker, it is not an accident. When you open a center on the same block as a Planned Parenthood and hope women wander in by mistake, that is a calculated move. The only conclusion is that this chronic lying is on purpose, and the people who are involved in it know what they are doing.
Like the Fugitive Slave Act?
Confronted with their misconduct, defenders of the CPCs have taken to hyperbole, saying the legislative remedy arising from the NARAL investigation is tantamount to the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850.
From Pregnancy Help News:
The philosophy underpinning these acts was that a slave was the property of his or her owner. If a slave managed to get away from the brutality of the plantation and flee to a free state, the Fugitive Slave Acts mandated that the slave be returned—to face punishment or death.
Anyone found to obstruct or hinder the faithful execution of the Fugitive Slave Act was fined $500.
Under AB 775, the state of California stacks the deck in much the same way. The unborn child is like the slave. Acting in the interests of the abortion industry, the state considers an unborn child as its property, to do with as it will.
Here’s a video showing some of the rhetoric used in the legislative process by opponents of the bill.
Letter Writing Campaign
NARAL and other supporters of AB 775 have organized a letter writing campaign, urging Gov. Brown to sign the act.
Here is the text of their letter:
I am writing to urge you to sign the Reproductive FACT Act (AB 775).
Decisions around family planning and pregnancy are extremely time sensitive, and women need immediate access to affordable health care. Delaying care can have serious negative health outcomes for women and children. AB 775 makes sure women are informed about financial assistance for comprehensive reproductive health services.
California women also face the threat of nearly 200 anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) that put their ideological agenda ahead of women’s health. They spread medical misinformation and manipulate women to keep them from accessing abortion care. AB 775 makes sure women know when the people giving them counseling are not qualified medical professionals.
The women of California deserve to make informed decisions about their reproductive health care. Please stand up for reproductive freedom and sign the Reproductive FACT Act (AB 775).
The press release from bill supporters included some polling information:
A poll of 600 likely November 2016 voters in California conducted by Tulchin Research found that more than seven in ten voters (71%) support requiring unlicensed facilities that advertise pregnancy-related services to clarify that they are not licensed medical facilities to just 17% who oppose this requirement.
Eighty percent of voters support requiring state-licensed clinics to inform women of programs that provide financial assistance for contraception, prenatal care, abortion and family planning to just 11 percent who are opposed. Catholic voters back this requirement by a margin of better than 5-to-1, with 77% of Catholics supporting it to just 15% opposed.
Additionally, the requirement is backed by self-identified “conservatives” by a margin of better than 2-to-1, with 60% of conservatives supporting it to 28% opposed.
Care Net’s Coming to San Diego
It just so happens that Care Net, supporters of one of the largest networks of CPCs in North America, is having their 2015 National Conference in San Diego, September 8-11, at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina on Harbor Island.
There, more than 1300 attendees affiliated with 1,100 organizations will hear inspirational speakers, tour booths stocked with merchandise and attend workshops.
I have no doubt that the fake videos about Planned Parenthood will be the focus of conversations during the conference. Conservatives are hoping to use these misrepresentations to attack funding for women’s health care clinics around the country.
Investigations in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Georgia, Massachusetts and South Dakota have found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood in their state. Law enforcement agencies in California and Texas are conducting inquiries into whether laws were broke by the group that made the sting videos.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is looking into whether the organization that made the videos sought charitable donations by posing as a nonprofit and whether the group secretly recorded Planned Parenthood employees without their consent.
More on this next week…
Cry Me a River
Conservatives around the country are lining up to woo their theocratic supporters in the wake of the jailing of Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis for contempt of court.
From the New York Times news service, via the Union-Tribune:
“The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order,” said Bunning, who was appointed by President George W. Bush. “If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems.”
The judge’s decision to jail Davis, a 49-year-old Democrat who was elected last year, immediately intensified the attention focused on her, a longtime government worker who is one of three of Kentucky’s 120 county clerks who contend that their religious beliefs keep them from recognizing same-sex nuptials. Within hours of Davis’ imprisonment, some Republican presidential candidates declared their support for her, a sign that her case was becoming an increasingly charged cause for Christian conservatives.
“Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a statement.
The Che Cafe Wins, After All
To be honest, I always thought supporters of the Che Cafe had almost no chance of prevailing over the UCSD administration, which ordered their eviction last spring. I was wrong.
The tenacious nature of their protests has prevailed, according to the Reader:
After weeks of meetings between the Ché Café collective and UCSD administration, the two sides have announced an agreement that spells out specific improvements that will pave the way for the operation of the Ché with the blessing of the school and without the threat of eviction.
Four specific improvements to the building have been identified that UC administration has agreed to pay for. They include a new fire suppression sprinkler system, a fire alarm pull system, tempered windows, and a “travel/exit path evaluation.”
All improvements will be paid for by the administration, says Fabiola Orozco, a fourth-year psychology major and Ché collective member who was involved in the two meetings with UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla in mid-July.
I’m Taking a Long Weekend
This column will resume on Tuesday.
Have a great Labor Day, and don’t believe all those stories in the media about the holiday being about “working.” It’s about working people and their struggles for dignity and justice.
The San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council is sponsoring a Union Pride Day baseball outing at PETCO Park on Monday. The Padres will try not to lose to the Rockies. Beer and hot dogs will be consumed. I’m assuming speeches will be made.
On This Day: 1781 – Los Angeles was founded by Spanish settlers. The original name was “El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula,” which translates as “The Town of the Queen of Angels.” 1949 – More than 140 attendees at a benefit for a civil rights group are injured in the “Peekskill Riots” in Peekskill, N.Y. The victims were among the 20,000 people leaving a concert featuring African-American Paul Robeson, well-known for his strong pro-unionism, civil rights activism and left-wing affiliations. The departing concert-goers had to drive through a miles-long gauntlet of rock-throwing racists and others chanting “go on back to Russia, you ni**ers” and “white ni**ers.” 1991 – In what many believe was to become the longest strike in U.S. history, 600 Teamster-represented workers walked out at the Diamond Walnut processing plant in Stockton, Calif., after the company refused to restore a 30-percent pay cut they had earlier taken to help out the company. The two sides ultimately agreed to a new contract after 14 years.
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