Our Town: Abortion Foes Fail to Kill Lappin Bill
By Allen Houston
March 10, 2011
Original available here
The City Council voted March 2 in favor of a bill that would require so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers to be more transparent about the services that it provides.
East Side Council Member Jessica Lappin penned the legislation that would require the centers to put signs in their waiting rooms or entrances stating that they don’t provide contraceptives, referrals or abortions.
Critics of the Crisis Pregnancy Centers say that they mislead women into thinking that they are healthcare providers, when in reality, they are backed by pro-life organizations whose services consist of providing ultra-sounds and trying to dissuade women from having abortions.
“This bill will protect consumers and women who are seeking health care,” said Lappin. “We’re only going after the places that are deceiving women.”
Lappin said that these centers set up shop near Planned Parenthood clinics or hospitals in the hopes that women will enter the wrong place. The fact that staff wear white doctor’s coats only adds to the women’s confusion.
“You are free to say whatever you want in this country, but you can’t do it while you are dressed in scrubs pretending to be a doctor,” she said.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn and East Side Council Member Dan Garodnick said that the bill is about uncovering deceptive practices.
“This is a bill about truth in advertising,” Quinn said. “It’s a consumer-protection bill. Women have the right to know whether they are consulting a licensed medical advisor when they go into one of these centers.”
Garodnick, co-sponsor of the bill and chair of the Committee on Consumer Affairs, agreed.
“We all know that women’s reproductive rights are under attack,” he said. “As chair of the consumer affairs committee, I agree that this is a deceptive practice bill.”
The bill passed 39-9 and Mayor Bloomberg has signaled he will sign it into law later this month.
Chris Slattery, founder and president of Expectant Mother Care-FrontLine, a chain of 12 Crisis Pregnancy Centers in the city, said that as soon as the mayor’s signature is on the bill, his organization would sue the city for infringing on their civil liberties and freedom of speech.
Slattery believes that the law will go down as unconstitutional and that it is based on two sets of standards, one which apply to pro-life centers and one to abortion centers, because by law, centers like Planned Parenthood are required to have medical providers on the premises, something that is not required under law for the Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
“This bill was written to crush our viewpoint,” he said.
In the end, he said, the protracted legislation would cost the city more than if they had left things as they were.
“This could have been avoided if poor little Jessica Lappin, activist and radical that she is, would have sat down and listened to us,” he said.
For her part, Council Speaker Quinn doesn’t understand why the Crisis Pregnancy Centers don’t embrace the new label.
“If they believe that their mission is correct, I don’t understand why they wouldn’t want to scream who they are and what they stand for,” she said.