By Dave Andrusko
San Francisco is three hours behind east coast time, so I am posting this without knowing whether the San Francisco board of supervisors will vote today in favor of a measure targeting a pregnancy help center. Prodded on by pro-abortion supervisor Malia Cohen, the board’s Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee voted last week in favor of what Cohen calls a “consumer-rights issue,” precisely the kind of targeted attacks that courts have struck down in Maryland and New York City.
In this instance, it’s “First Resort” that is in Cohen’s crosshairs, based on the customarily groundless accusation that this pregnancy resource provider is engaging in “false or misleading advertising.”
Alleged violators could face fines up to $500 per violation and civil action by the city. First Resort, which operates locations in San Francisco, Redwood City, and Oakland, repeatedly denied deceiving anyone. According to the San Francisco Examiner
“’This law attacks one group of pregnancy resource providers, but not another group with a competing message,’ said Shari Plunkett, CEO of First Resort, a pregnancy counseling center and women’s health clinic that will not perform abortions, nor tell clients where they can get the procedure done.
“She said her organization states that policy to potential clients who ask about abortion over the phone, and again in writing before they see a counselor in person.
“’Our communication is clear, it’s honest and it’s appropriate,’ Plunkett testified before the Board of Supervisors’ City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee hearing on the proposal.”
In a story that ran in today’s San Francisco Appeal, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said he opposed the legislation “on purely legal grounds.” He was referring, according to reporter Chris Roberts, to the lack of success in four cities where similar laws were enacted.
Besides, “What is the harm, the impact on San Franciscans?” Elsbernd told Roberts. “There wasn’t a demonstrable evidence of harm.” In saying this Elsbernd was agreeing with Maria Martinez-Mont, a spokeswoman for First Resort.
“Supporters of the ordinance can provide no real-world justification for its adoption — they provide only speculation and hyperbole,” Martinez-Mont said in an email to the San Francisco Chronicle. “The bill is unnecessary, will put The City at legal risk and is a distraction when so many other pressing issues face San Francisco.”
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