Off The Record: On Religion, Politics & Equality
Update: NYC bill #371 was just blocked by a judge in NY. Here is a link to the decision. #371 requires deceptive crisis pregnancy centers tell the truth about who they are and what services – not medical – they provide.
February 2011 Post:
Today the NYC City Council passed Int. #371 that requires crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to disclose the truth about the services they do and do not provide. CPCs are anti-choice, Christian, pseudo-clinics that use deceptive tactics to get women – possibly pregnant, probably terrified – to come through their doors. This allows CPC’s anti-abortion activists to talk a woman out of an abortion by using false medical information (abortion = future infertility or abortion = breast cancer) manipulation (sharing personal stories about the joy of motherhood, referring to abortion as “killing”) and other shame and scare tactics.
One of the biggest offenders in NYC is a CPC called EMC (Expectant Mother Care) Pregnancy Centers headed by a man name Chris Slattery.
Slattery is a former leader of the rabidly anti-abortion intimidation group Operation Rescue. Mr. Slattery and I both attended a press conference held at City Hall today to announce the expected passage of #371. Here’s how that went.
Slattery: “I’m the target of this legislation”
Me: “Where does it say that in this legislation”
Slattery: “You look at it.”
Me: “I’ve read it.”
Slattery: ”It carves out that if in effect uh, you are uh, the only organizations that are effected and influenced by this legislation are those that work inside of rooms with examining tables, that have physicians on staff, medical equipment…”
Me: “But that  shouldn’t keep you from partnering with a doctor if you want to.”
Slattery: “They are saying de facto that partnerships are themselves deceptive.”
Me: “That’s not in this legislation.”
Slattery: “Yes it is.”
Me: “No it’s not, it is not being legislated like that.”
Slattery: “Yes, yes, it absolutely is…”
Me: “But wait, what you are saying is that is what your interpretation of it  is, I mean, I am just trying to understand…”
Slattery: ”Are you a lawyer?”
Slattery: “Well I got a 26-page legal analysis of this bill. Where are you from? I don’t even know, who are you?”
Me: “I write for several places, Alternet, American Independent…so I am just trying to understand your….”
Slattery: “Okay, you know what I am through with you….”
(Note: I spoke briefly with a representative of NARAL – she approached me after watching the me/Slattery exchange. She said Slattery “does this all the time” piggy-backing on their press conferences. And that the argument he was making about #371 was “completely wrong” and that they aren’t inside medical clinics – that simply because they place their CPCs in close proximity to or in the same office plaza as a medical provider does not a medical provider make.)
This was a weird conversation to say the least. This happens repeatedly with those on the far-right I have interviewed – strange, stilted conversations, my questions being derailed, getting cut off. Slattery’s dismissive and defensive attitude is the hallmark of people who are in the wrong, especially those who are willing to go to practically any length to impose their ideology on another.
Other stuff to check out:
And, from my friend Kathryn’s excellent article last fall in Ms.
The deceptive tactics of many of the country’s CPCs—which are estimated to total between 2,300 and 4,000 centers nationwide—have been well-documented: They often mislead women about whether they perform abortions, mimicking the style or names of abortion clinics and operating in close proximity to them. Some provide misinformation about women’s pregnancy status or due date, or suggest unproven links between abortion and cancer, infertility or suicide. Yet despite these fraudulent practices, CPCs have received millions in funding from both federal and state coffers.
(and a link to my quickie post with links to the TAGGS government grant site on CPC funding here.)
A couple NYTimes articles about Int. 371:
From 371 (click to read the full bill)- the required and completely reasonable disclosures CPCs must make: