Just blocked: NYC City Council passes legislation requiring CPC’s tell the truth & my brief talk with Chris Slattery

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.

Mr. Slattery in a hat

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.

After the actual press conference Mr. Slattery announced that there would be a “pro-life press conference” to follow the one held by City Councilmembers.  That they were starting at Trinity Church – a few blocks away from our location at City Hall – a leading a march back to City Hall for their press conference.  I made my way to Mr. Slattery to ask him some questions, specifically what he thought the new disclosure requirements would do to his business’s bottom line.  We didn’t even get that far.

Slattery: “I’m the target of this legislation”

Me: “You said this is targeting you specifically?”

Slattery:  “Specifically targets our organizations because we are the only ones that partner with doctors offer ultrasounds, work inside of doctor’s offices, medical clinics and hospital clinics and so they are saying that because we ourselves are not medical that we cannot partner with hospitals and doctors to provide medical care.” (See Note below on this claim)

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 [371] 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 [371] is, I mean, I am just trying to understand…”

Slattery:  “Are you a lawyer?”

Me: “No.”

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:

Click for great article on CPCs from The Stranger

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:

True Mission of Crisis Pregnancy Centers

A Hidden Minefield at Pregnancy Centers

From 371 (click to read the full bill)– the required and completely reasonable disclosures CPCs must make:

§ 20-816 Required disclosures.
a. A pregnancy services center shall disclose to a client that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene encourages women who are or who may be pregnant to consult with a licensed medical provider.
b. A pregnancy services center shall disclose if it does or does not have a licensed medical provider on staff who provides or directly supervises the provision of all of the services at such pregnancy services center.
c. A pregnancy services center shall disclose if it does or does not provide or provide referrals for abortion.
d. A pregnancy services center shall disclose if it does or does not provide or provide referrals for emergency contraception.
e. A pregnancy services center shall disclose if it does or does not provide or provide referrals for prenatal care.
f. The disclosures required by this section must be provided:
(1) in writing, in English and Spanish in a size and style as determined in accordance with rules promulgated by the commissioner on (i) at least one sign conspicuously posted in the entrance of the pregnancy services center; (ii) at least one additional sign posted in any area where clients wait to receive services; and (iii) in any advertisement promoting the services of such pregnancy services center in clear and prominent letter type and in a size and style to be determined in accordance with rules promulgated by the commissioner; and
(2) orally, whether by in person or telephone communication, upon a client or prospective client request for any of the following services: (i) abortion; (ii) emergency contraception; or (iii) prenatal care.

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