Where the pro-life and pro-choice groups were once able to co-exist helping and supporting women, albeit differently, with pregnancy decisions, there seems to no longer be room in this town for the both of ‘em. Faith-based pregnancy centers have recently become the target of attacks by those who are lobbying in support of abortion. Even though there is no risk of abortion access ever being overturned here in Connecticut, zealous supporters are attempting to manufacture a crisis that doesn’t exist. That’s why the proposed HB 7070 should never become law.
Pregnancy care centers have cropped up all over the country over the last 40 years. It’s estimated that there are somewhere between 2,700 to 3,500 centers nationwide. They’re mostly independent, faith-based non-profits that provide help and support to women and men that are facing a pregnancy decision. The majority of all pregnancy centers do not receive any state or federal dollars, and in Connecticut this is most certainly the case.
Pregnancy centers are funded by individuals, civic groups, churches and private businesses who recognize the need for these services. Centers provide pregnancy testing, education, information about pregnancy, parenting, adoption and abortion options. Some Centers offer medical services that include consultations with a licensed medical professional, ultrasounds and testing and treatments for sexually transmitted illnesses. Pregnancy centers provide important help and support that bridge a gap left by the very politicians now trying to interfere with them.
HB 7070 is discriminatory and misleading. Even the name of the bill, “An Act Concerning Deceptive Advertising Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers” is troubling. The irony is the bill that’s aims to stop deception is itself being deceptive. HB 7070 targets faith-based organization and speech. Faith-based pregnancy centers have protected speech and religious ideas that can extend to even abortion.
HB 7070 defines “Limited Services Pregnancy Centers” as ones that “ do not refer for abortion. ” No other entity is included in this bill, but only faith-based centers. By HB 7070’s logic, if a faith-based pregnancy center decided to conform its religious belief to that of the State Attorney General’s, and decide to now refer for abortions, the center would then be exempt from HB 7070 and be free to practice any deceptive advertising they want, without penalty.
The Attorney General is also being granted sweeping power and authority over these faith-based organizations, with the ability to bring civil actions and punitive damages against them. During the public health hearing of HB 7070, some very disturbing things were said in some of the testimonies and by some of the committee members on what is considered deceptive. Words like pregnancy, help, options , and abortion were scrutinized. Clothing such as uniforms or scrubs were considered deceptive along with the communities and business neighbors of where the pregnancy centers reside. Some of the Public Health Committee agreed they should regulate and control which words a faith-based pregnancy center can and can’t use and where it should appear on their advertisements and websites.
Currently, Connecticut’s Consumer Protection laws are in place to process and handle deceptive advertising if it were to ever happen. However, in all the years that pregnancy centers have been actively serving women here in Connecticut, not one complaint has ever been lodged or attempted to be filed against such centers. There has never been an actual instance where by a woman who went to a pregnancy center in Connecticut felt deceived, and tried to file a complaint. No client, politician, or even abortion activist has been able to cite a specific example where this happened.
They share vague stories and use broad generalities, always carefully not to name a particular center, particular place or particular person. This is a manufactured crisis — a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist. HB 7070 is a threat to freedom of speech and religion being controlled by state. The City of Hartford is currently being sued for enacting a similar discriminatory ordinance, on which HB 7070 is based, and Connecticut should pay careful attention and not waste tax dollars compelling speech of faith-based institutions. Every Senator and Representative should vote no on HB 7070, and protect the rights of all its residents.
Lisa A. Maloney is President of the Connecticut Pregnancy Care Coalition.
CTViewpoints welcomes rebuttal or opposing views to this and all its commentaries. Read our guidelines and submit your commentary here.