- The Washington Times - Friday, August 2, 2013

In a July 23 editorial in The Washington Times, “Suffer the children (and free speech),” the author claims that a 2009 Baltimore signage-clarity ordinance affecting crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) is not about consumer protection and “truth in advertising.” The author instead states that the goal of the ordinance that was recently the subject of a case before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is, in fact, to ensure that “[p]regnancy centers like the faith-based Center for Pregnancy Concerns must not be allowed to offer women the choice of changing her mind.”

In fact, quite the opposite is true. Women who seek information about pregnancy-related services have the right to know what will actually be offered. This Baltimore city ordinance seeks to provide that transparency to every consumer. The ordinance requires that providers of pregnancy-related medical services notify consumers if they do not provide or refer for the full range of legal options, including abortion and birth control. This neither harms the women who choose to patronize CPCs nor infringes on the First Amendment rights of the CPC.

Together, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington and Planned Parenthood of Maryland support the city and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in their efforts to protect Baltimore women seeking medical services and information. The ordinance affects CPCs that have a history of bait-and-switch tactics. These centers often use misleading advertising, lending to the appearance that they offer a full range of pregnancy-related medical services, which is not always the case. Although this ordinance does not affect the content of information that CPCs offer, it is important to note these centers often provide highly inaccurate and misleading information about abortion.

Your editorial argues that this ordinance is about “protecting the abortion industry,” not consumer protection and advertising the actual services that CPCs offer. Yet here in Baltimore, CPCs advertise one thing and then actually provide another, impeding women’s ability to search for options, information and support when making medical decisions. Regardless of differing views on legal abortion, we should all agree that no one should be misled or manipulated when seeking health information.

LAURA MEYERS

President and CEO

Planned Parenthood

of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.

Washington

JODI FINKELSTEIN

Executive director

NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland

Silver Spring

JENNY BLACK

President and CEO

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