The following comes from an April 19 KPCC article by Rebecca Plevin:
Six out of eight Los Angeles-area pregnancy centers visited by KPCC are not complying with a new state law requiring them to notify their clients that the state offers access to low-cost and free abortions.
KPCC also found that authorities are not aggressively enforcing the law, which took effect Jan. 1. Some cities are deferring to the state, while others are waiting to receive complaints about pregnancy centers before investigating them.
There are 189 of these centers in California, according to the California ProLife Council. They provide women with pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and counseling. But critics say these facilities’ main goal is to persuade women not to have abortions.
The state legislature passed the notification law last year following an undercover investigation of 45 pregnancy centers by NARAL Pro-Choice California. The probe found that “90 percent of them … lied about medical facts around pregnancy and abortion” and “attempted to shame and delay women from accessing abortion care,” says Amy Everitt, the group’s state director.
Pro-abortion rights groups like NARAL define any opposition to abortion as “lying,” responds Matt Bowman, a lawyer representing the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, which counts more than 100 California pregnancy centers as members. He says efforts to regulate what pregnancy centers tell their patients amount to censorship.
Bowman is also senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing pregnancy centers in one of five lawsuits seeking to overturn the notification law. The suits allege the measure violates the centers’ freedom of speech and religion.
One of the centers not complying with the law is Foothills Pregnancy Resource Center in Duarte. Asked to explain why she won’t post the notice about access to abortions, the center’s executive director Lori Berg says the dispute over the law is like the Cola Wars.
“I’m Pepsi-Cola, I’m not Coca-Cola,” Berg says. “Don’t force me to put Coca-Cola posters or even hand out free coupons for Coca-Cola.”
Women’s Pregnancy Care Clinic, which has two locations in Pasadena and Whittier, isn’t complying with the law either. Jeanette Kuiphof, who runs both centers, says she’s not following the law because she hasn’t been cited yet.
There are three ways a center can comply with the law: It can post the notice in its waiting area, it can hand the notice to clients or it can give it to them online. Kuiphof says she’ll choose the latter option, once her clinics switch to electronic health records this summer.
The law also requires a clinic to notify its clients if it is not licensed by the state as a medical facility.
KPCC also found centers in Glendale, Torrance and Los Angeles that don’t post the abortion notice in their lobbies. The director of the Glendale center, Avenues Pregnancy Clinic, has not returned several phone calls. The other two – Pregnancy Help Center in Torrance and Los Angeles Pregnancy Services in L.A. – deferred to Alliance Defending Freedom.
Cities are taking different approaches to enforcement. Glendale and Whittier say that since they’re not required to enforce the law, they’re leaving it up to the state.
Duarte, home of Lori Berg’s center, says it will enforce the law.
“So far the city of Duarte has not received any complaints, so at this point we haven’t proceeded with any enforcement,” says Deputy City Manager Karen Herrera.
Pasadena, home to one of Jeannette Kuiphof’s centers, says it will enforce the law if it receives any complaints. L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office has the same position.
For its part, the Attorney General Harris’ office says it’s committed to ensuring the abortion notice law is upheld in court.