June 23, 2022

Warren, Maloney, Bonamici, Menendez Introduce Legislation to Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation by Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Text of Bill (pdf)

Washington, D.C.  – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Congresswomen Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), and Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today introduced the Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act to crack down on false advertising that crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) employ to dissuade patients from getting the reproductive care they need, including abortion care. This bill directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue rules to prohibit deceptive or misleading advertising related to the provision of abortion services. The bill also authorizes the FTC to enforce these rules and collect penalties from organizations in violation.

“With a far-right Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, it’s more important than ever to crack down on so-called ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ that mislead women about reproductive health care. I’m working in the Senate to stop these deceptive practices and ensure every American can access the abortion care they need,” said Senator Warren.

“No one should have to question that the person they are seeking medical advice from is actually a doctor or that information is accurate, objective, and complete,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “It is truly disgusting that reproductive rights are being threatened and attacked by crisis pregnancy centers whose guiding principle is to mislead, misinform, and outright lie to pregnant people in order to dissuade them from having an abortion. It is long past time that we prohibit these predatory tactics to undermine reproductive rights. This legislation cracks down on disinformation by simply requiring the FTC to ensure honesty for those that advertise reproductive healthcare."

“At a time when reproductive rights are under attack, it is especially important for anyone seeking abortion care to be able to find a provider they can trust,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Crisis pregnancy centers often engage in deceptive advertising to get people in, then mislead them about the services they provide. The Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act would prohibit this egregious behavior so people looking for care get accurate information.”

“With women’s reproductive rights under a coordinated attack by Republicans across the country, it is more important than ever that women continue to have access to trusted information and comprehensive reproductive health care services,” said Senator Menendez. “By promoting deceptive or misleading advertisements about abortion services, crisis pregnancy centers jeopardize women’s health and well-being, all while elevating unproven theories about birth control and contraceptive care. Our bicameral legislation would help address this problem by allowing the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on these centers for their misleading tactics and hold them accountable for their actions.

Every year, thousands of pregnant people seeking objective and medically sound reproductive health care end up walking into CPCs. These clinics falsely and deliberately advertise themselves to potential clients as comprehensive reproductive health care providers; however, their intent is to discourage pregnant people from having abortions.

CPCs routinely use a variety of deceptive tactics, including making false claims about reproductive health care and disseminating inaccurate, misleading, and stigmatizing information about abortion and contraception. Additionally, most CPCs in the United States do not employ licensed medical personnel or provide referrals for birth control or abortion care.

According to the Journal of Medical Internet Research Public Health and Surveillance, there are more than 2,500 CPCs in the United States, though some anti-abortion groups claim that the number is closer to 4,000. One study found that, on average, CPCs outnumber abortion clinics nationwide by an average of 3 to 1, but in some states, the ratio is as high as 11 to 1.

The  Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act does the following: 

  • Directs the FTC to issue rules to prohibit deceptive or misleading advertising related to the provision of abortion services;
  • Provides the FTC the authority to enforce these rules and collect penalties from organizations in violation;
  • Requires a report to Congress on enforcement under this Act.

“The fake clinics known as CPCs have a long history of suggesting – or outright claiming – that they offer comprehensive reproductive health care services,” said Power to Decide CEO Raegan McDonald-Mosley, MD, MPH. “In fact, they are typically run by anti-abortion organizations, often with no certified medical staff, and no intention of providing either abortion care or birth control. Instead, they push inaccurate, incomplete and stigmatizing information, and few if any clinical services. Even more troubling, the majority of CPCs are located in communities where it is already difficult to access abortion or other essential health care. People in these communities face additional barriers to care when they find themselves in a fake clinic that fails to provide them with medically accurate and complete information about their own pregnancies and health care options. At a time when so many stand to lose access to abortion care, we must put a stop to the fraudulent practices of CPCs that deceive and delay time-sensitive, essential care.”

She continued, “We at Power to Decide thank Representatives Maloney and Bonamici, and Senators Warren and Menendez for introducing this critically important bill, and all of the legislative champions working to ensure that everyone has equitable access to the information they need to protect their reproductive autonomy, health and well-being.”

“Access to comprehensive medical care, including abortion, is essential for people’s health, safety, and wellbeing.  People must be able to receive the full spectrum of medical care without the fear of being manipulated by misleading, inaccurate, or biased information,” said Iffath Abbasi Hoskins, MD, FACOG, President of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “As states move to ban and criminalize abortion care, it is critical that people who need abortions are able to access evidence-based, non-judgmental health information from qualified professionals, not crisis pregnancy centers that use deceptive advertising and misinformation to spread their ideology. We are grateful to Representative Carolyn Maloney for her leadership in counteracting misinformation surrounding abortion care.”  

"So-called ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ masquerade as abortion providers but deliberately deceive pregnant people through lies, disinformation, and anti-abortion propaganda,” said Jamie L. Manson, President of Catholics for Choice. “These fraudulent clinics, nearly all of which are religiously affiliated and many of which are Catholic, exist to coerce people – but coercion is not healthcare.”

She continued, “To make matters even worse, CPCs actively target marginalized people who already face the highest barriers to accessing abortion care – particularly the Black, Latina, Indigenous, Asian American, Pacific Islander, and immigrant communities. They trick folks into believing they are receiving legitimate healthcare, but in fact have no medical professionals on staff. Too often, they provide no prenatal testing, putting both the pregnant person and the pregnancy at great risk. Catholics for Choice thanks Congresswoman Maloney for introducing the Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation (SAD) Act to address these dangerous fake clinics and looks forward to working with her to advance this critical legislation."

“Every day, pregnant people seeking information are harmed by the dangerous and deceptive tactics of fake reproductive health clinics,” said Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women. “National Council of Jewish Women New York Section has long been at the forefront of this issue through their work on ‘Pro Truth,’ a coalition of reproductive rights advocates, policy makers, and service providers, united to fight fake abortion clinics that has also expanded to Florida. Everyone deserves to seek and receive accurate information about all their options if they are pregnant. We thank Representative Maloney and Representative Bonamici for introducing the Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act to help pregnant people get the information and care they need.”

“Communities of color, including the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, have long been targeted by misinformation from crisis pregnancy centers advertising in their native language,” said Yvonne Hsu, Chief Policy and Government Affairs Officer at the National Asian Pacific American Women' Forum (NAPAWF). “They take advantage of the intrinsic trust that comes from speakers of the same language to mislead and prevent people from getting the care that they need. Despite an arduous path to abortion care for the AAPI community — filled with language barriers, cultural stigmas, and low rates of insurance coverage for our most vulnerable members - a third of AAPI pregnancies end in abortion. We are so grateful for Rep. Maloney's leadership to put an end to these deceptive practices.”

“When someone is denied the sacred right to make decisions about their own body and reproduction, their reproductive dignity and religious freedom are violated. The use of deceptive advertising by crisis pregnancy centers to suggest they perform abortions—which they don’t—is meant to trick, confuse, and manipulate those seeking abortion care and further rob them of their full decision-making power. This is a travesty, and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) supports the Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act,” said Rev. Katey Zeh, CEO of Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

This legislation is supported by: Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Center for Reproductive Rights, Advocates for Youth, American Atheists, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Public Health Association, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Brooklyn for Reproductive and Gender Equity, Catholics for Choice, Clearinghouse on Women's Issues, Families USA, Feminist Majority Foundation, Guttmacher Institute, In Your Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, Jewish Women International, Medical Students for Choice, MomsRising, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, National Birth Equity Collaborative, National Council of Jewish Women, National Council of Jewish Women – New York, National Council of Jewish Women – Greater Miami, National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, National Health Law Program, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, National Organization for Women, National Partnership for Women and Families, National Women's Health Network, Nurses for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, Population Institute, Power to Decide, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Reproductive Equity Now, Sexuality Information Education Council of the U.S., SisterReach, and United for Reproductive & Gender Equity

This legislation is cosponsored by: Senators Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Diane Feinstein, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mazie Hirono, Amy Klobuchar, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley, Patty Murray, Brian Schatz, Bernie Sanders, Tina Smith, Mark Warner, and Ron Wyden.

Representatives Jake Auchincloss, Nanette Barragán, Karen Bass, Earl Blumenauer, Jamaal Bowman, Anthony Brown, Cori Bush, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Yvette D. Clarke, Gerald E. Connolly, Danny K. Davis, Madeleine Dean, Peter DeFazio, Diana DeGette, Ted Deutch, Veronica Escobar, Anna Eshoo, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Lizzie Fletcher, Lois Frankel, Jesús G. “Chuy” García, Raúl Grijalva, Sheila Jackson Lee, Sara Jacobs, Pramila Jayapal, Hank Johnson, Mondaire Jones, Anne Kuster, Brenda Lawrence, Barbara Lee, Andy Levin, Ted Lieu, Alan Lowenthal, Tom Malinowski, Betty McCollum, Grace Meng, Gwen Moore, Marie Newman, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Chellie Pingree, Mark Pocan, Katie Porter, Ayanna Pressley, David Price, Jackie Speier, Haley Stevens, Marilyn Strickland, Mark Takano, Dina Titus, Rashida Tlaib, Marc Veasey, Nydia Velázquez, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Peter Welch, and Nikema Williams