Los Angeles City Hall. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles City Hall. Photo by John Schreiber.

City Councilwoman Nury Martinez said Tuesday she hopes to craft an ordinance regulating Los Angeles’ crisis pregnancy centers that provide services and counseling to pregnant women but are opposed to abortion.

Many unsuspecting women make appointments at the centers due to misleading advertising that suggests they are a medical facility providing abortions but in fact are not, Martinez said.

“It is important that when women seek information about their pregnancy that they are given all of the information,” Martinez told City News Service.

“What we have found is that in some instances women were being brought into these pregnancy centers and not given all of the information about their pregnancy.”

The City Council’s Health, Mental Health and Education Committee on Monday approved a staff report on state laws regarding crisis pregnancy centers and other cities that are working to limit their deceptive practices, including recommendations on how deceptive advertising can be limited within Los Angeles.

The report was sought in a motion introduced by Martinez and Councilman Mike Bonin.

The centers often have the word “abortion” in their name and also pay Google and other search engines to list their website near the top of the page when someone searches the word “abortion,” Martinez said.

“Women make an appointment only to find that the center does not provide counseling that informs you of all of your options,” Martinez said. “It is deceitful, not providing the woman with all the information.”

In May, City Attorney Mike Feuer sent letters to six crisis pregnancy centers in the city informing them of a new state law, AB775, that went into effect in 2016 and requires pregnancy centers and clinics to provide clients with referrals to low-cost or free abortion, contraception and family planning services.

Matt Bowman, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom — which represents the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates — said at the time that AB 775 violates the First Amendment rights of pregnancy centers.

“Requiring pro-life pregnancy health centers to refer women for free abortions is a blatant violation of their free speech rights,” Bowman said.

San Francisco and Oakland are among other cities that have ordinances prohibiting crisis pregnancy centers from making false or misleading statements to the public about pregnancy-related services performed or offered at the facilities.

Martinez said her goal is to eventually craft a similar ordinance.

The Health, Mental Health and Education Committee has asked for another report from staff within 90 days that includes making sure all crisis pregnancy centers in the city have been identified and how other jurisdictions enforce their laws regulating them.

–City News Service

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