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Pregnancy Centers In LA Could Face 10k Fine For Misleading Patients

A monitor and medical imaging equipment sit next to an empty patient bed in a patient room.
A patient room in a crisis pregnancy center in Pasadena. The law will only apply to pregnancy centers in the city of Los Angeles.
(Susanica Tam
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The Los Angeles City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday prohibiting pregnancy centers from misleading people about the reproductive health services they provide, including abortion and contraception.

About this ordinance

The ordinance was proposed by City Attorney Mike Feuer and will be enforced by his office with fines of $10,000 per violation. It will also allow victims to sue for compensation if they believe they have been misled.

Although the measure covers all pregnancy centers, Feuer specifically cited anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers in his comments to council and said he hopes the measure never has to be used.

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"Because I hope that when the council passes and mayor signs this ordinance, that every pregnancy center is going to provide only accurate information, will never misrepresent the scope of services that they provide so that no woman is victimized and needs to vindicate her rights — whether through us or on her own," Feuer said.

Why advocates say it's needed

Feuer told the city council that some anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers target low-income people and use deceptive tactics such as false advertising to make pregnant people believe they provide abortion services when they do not, Once inside, pregnant people are instead dissuaded from getting an abortion.

The ordinance sites the delay caused by misleading medical information as detrimental to a woman’s health, stating “...she loses time crucial to accessing emergency contraception, obtaining an abortion, or beginning prenatal care. Under these circumstances a woman might also lose the option to choose a particular procedure, or to terminate the pregnancy at all.”

What's next

With abortion now illegal or severely restricted in a number of states, California officials anticipate thousands of women will travel to Los Angeles to obtain reproductive health services.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office says he will sign the measure by Nov. 14. After a brief posting period, it will become law.

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked enforcement of a 2015 California law, known as the Reproductive Fact Act, that required faith-based crisis pregnancy centers to notify patients that the state offers subsidized medical care, including abortions.

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