Crisis Pregnancy Centers are notorious for using misleading advertising to get women into them and then outright lying to the women once they come in. They list themselves as “abortion counseling” despite the fact that the only counseling provided is to shame and guilt them from having an abortion. One CPC in San Francisco, First Resort, even pays to have itself listed as a result in a Google search of “abortions in San Francisco.” Law makers in the city have decided enough is enough when it comes to the deceptive advertising from such centers and have passed an ordinance requiring they be clear about the fact that they don’t provide abortion services or referrals.
First Resort’s mission statement says outright that their goal is to work towards “an abortion free world.” It makes sense that they would advertise in an ambiguous manner because if their goal is to stop women from having abortions, well they need to actually reach women who are thinking about it. That doesn’t justify using deceptive advertising. According to this definition deceptive advertising doesn’t have to be intentional to be illegal, it just has to implicitly or explicitly lead a consumer to believe a “claim that they might not realize is false.” While I seriously doubt First Resort isn’t intentionally advertising themselves as abortion providers it is easy to see why a consumer would believe they are. Not only do they come up in a search for “abortion in San Francisco,” their website states that they “provide counseling and medical care to women who are making decisions about unplanned pregnancies.” These practices clearly qualify as deceptive advertising and should be stopped.
Similar laws in both New York City and Maryland have been overturned at the court level with the reasoning that they are unconstitutional. These laws both required CPC’s to state that they do not provide abortion services or referrals in their advertising so I can see the ambiguity of the laws. However I see no reason why they should be allowed to continue to mislead women in already stressful situations into their offices to try and cajole them out of having a safe and legally allowed procedure.
It seems certain that if San Francisco vigorously pursues these new regulations, First Resort and other CPC’s will likely seek to have the law blocked from being enforced just as those in NYC and Maryland. It would be shameful if they succeeded, after all if a major soda company can’t imply their products cure cancer, CPC’s shouldn’t be allowed to imply that they provide abortions.