(CNSNews.com) - A coalition of national pregnancy center organizations responded Friday to new legislation introduced to provide a "crackdown on deceit" preventing women from "being lured into anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers" as an "old, recycled" attack on facilities that help women find alternatives to abortion.
"This is nothing more than a routine attack on pregnancy centers by organizations seeking to limit their competition," said Kurt Entsminger, president of Care Net, an organization that operates more than 900 "evangelical pregnancy centers" across North America.
Entsminger added that the Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women's Services (SDAWS) Act, which would "direct the Federal Trade Commission to prescribe rules prohibiting fraudulent advertising of abortion services," is "unnecessary as it aims to cure an ill that doesn't exist. Our network of pregnancy centers is held to a high standard of integrity regarding truth and honesty in advertising."
"Abortion providers are clearly threatened by the grassroots, community efforts represented by compassionate, caring pregnancy centers to reach women struggling with the difficult decisions an unplanned or unintended pregnancy can create," stated Joe-El Godsey, vice president of affiliate services for Heartbeat International.
"Pregnancy centers, by and large, are committed to the fact that informed choice represents the best choice, added Godsey, whose organization is "a nonprofit, interdenominational Christian association of faith-based pregnancy resource centers, medical clinics, maternity homes, and nonprofit adoption agencies."
"We agree that women deserve truthful, accurate information about their reproductive health care choices," said Peggy Wolock, general counsel for Heartbeat International. "Too many women are not told of the emotional and physical risks of abortion until it's too late.
"If we truly want to empower women, we need to come alongside them, support them and give them good information about fetal development, abortion procedures and their options," she added.
"Pregnancy help centers, particularly those that are medical clinics, are providing accurate, truthful and complete information to empower women to choose life," said Tom Glessner, president of the National Institute of Family Life Advocates (NIFLA), which "exists to provide life-affirming pregnancy help centers the best legal education, consultation and training possible."
"The only fraudulent activity in this arena comes from those in the abortion industry who want to withhold truthful information from abortion-vulnerable women," Glessner charged.
Care Net, Heartbeat International and NIFLA also participate in the Option Line call center, which refers women looking for help with an unplanned pregnancy to one of 1,900 crisis pregnancy centers across the country.
Each of these centers has pledged to uphold a Commitment of Care agreement, which states: "All of our advertising and communications are truthful and honest and accurately describe the services we offer."
As Cybercast News Service previously reported, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) was joined by 11 co-sponsors in unveiling the SDAWS Act on Thursday to "enforce truth-in-advertising standards for reproductive centers."
"When women are making a health decision, they should never be subject to deceit and trickery," said Maloney. "Some of these crisis pregnancy centers should be called 'counterfeit pregnancy centers.' They have the right to exist, but they shouldn't have the right to deceive in order to advance their particular beliefs."
Maloney was joined in announcing the bill by representatives of leading pro-choice organizations, including Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
"Women deserve truthful, accurate information about their reproductive health care choices," Frederickson said. "We applaud Congresswoman Maloney for taking steps to address a deceptive practice that undermines women's constitutional rights. False advertising, especially when it comes to one of the most personal decisions a woman can make, must not be permitted."
However, Entsminger of Care Net claimed that he and his pro-life allies considered the Thursday press conference to be long on charges but short on facts.
"We find it particularly curious that in her announcement, Rep. Maloney did not cite one example of a pregnancy center that is engaging in deceptive advertising," he said.
See Related Story:
Crisis Pregnancy Centers Targeted in 'Crackdown on Deceit' (March 31, 2006)
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