San Francisco Latest to Target Pregnancy Resource Centers

By Dave Andrusko

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera

Learning nothing from previous pro-abortion efforts to stifle Crisis Pregnancy Centers, San Francisco city officials launched a two-prong attack on First Resort, the only CPC (also known as pregnancy resource center) in the city that is also a medical clinic.

At a City Hall press conference yesterday, Supervisor Malia Cohen, the bill’s sponsor, said, “The legislation we introduce today seeks to regulate and prevent crisis pregnancy centers from disseminating false and misleading advertising regarding the type and nature of service they are providing.”

City Attorney Dennis Herrera chimed in that his office had written First Resort about its advertisements which “appear to be designed to confuse or mislead consumers,” the New York Times reported. “In a letter to the center’s chief executive, Shari Plunkett, Mr. Herrera asked that the ads be corrected to make clear that the center does not perform abortions or make referrals for them.”

No doubt adding to the motivation to stifle First Resort is that its billboards are posted primarily in the city’s Latino and African American neighborhoods.

First Resort CEO Shari Plunkett strongly disputed the allegations in a statement posted on the organization’s webpage, reminding city officials that it provides all clients with full disclosure of the types of services it provides.

“First Resort rejects in the strongest possible terms any representation that our advertising misleads women,” she wrote. “We treat women with dignity and respect their right to choose. We welcome both Supervisor Cohen and City Attorney Herrera to tour our facilities and educate themselves about the services we provide.”

Plunkett went on to add, “We look forward to a robust discussion about the appropriateness of this legislation and urge them not to test the constitutional boundaries of free speech.” Plunkett said they had not  been provided a copy of the proposed legislation.

Interestingly, the New York Times story, written by Jesse McKinley,  provided some context: “Mr. Herrera, a Democrat and a candidate for mayor, was also explicit in his distaste for the centers, calling them ‘right wing, politically motivated’ institutions whose mission was ‘to dissuade women from seeking their constitutionally protected rights.’”

Along with copies of Cohen’s legislation and Herrera’s letter, there was also a press release from NARAL Pro-Choice California: ”NARAL Pro-Choice America has been supportive of similar local legislation in New York, Texas and Maryland cities.” Federal judges have slapped down similar speech-suppressing legislation in New York City and Baltimore. (See www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2011/07/federal-judge-issues-injunction-against-new-york-city-speech-squelching-ordinance-part-two; and www.nrlc.org/NewsToday/BaltimoreFreeSpeech.html)

A You Tube video posted by NARAL is a very useful tool in understanding its strategy.

“This video reinforces the fact that legislation against pregnancy centers is part of a nationwide strategy by abortion advocacy groups aimed at shutting down the competition,” Care Net President Melinda Delahoyde said when the video was first posted.  “It also reveals for the first time that these legislative attacks will be focused on urban areas, the very areas where abortion providers are prevalent, support for abortion alternatives is lacking, and abortion rates are skyrocketing.”

Archdiocese of San Francisco Respect Life Coordinator Vicki Evans told Catholic San Francisco that abortion providers have a profit motive while pregnancy resource centers offer their services to pregnant women for free.

“Why do abortion clinics fight so hard against laws mandating public-health regulation, parental notification, viewing ultrasounds, disclosures on fetal pain, and informed consent vis-à-vis health risks and the aftermath of abortion?,” she asked. “Could it be they might be trying to deceive women just a little?”

NRLC President Carol Tobias told NRL News Today, “If the San Francisco City Attorney and Board of Supervisors are so concerned about truth-in-advertising by pregnancy care centers, they should also force San Francisco’s abortion facilities to clearly post that their primary business is abortion and that other agencies in the city, such as pregnancy care centers, are available to provide life-affirming alternatives to abortion.”

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