Elaine Sierra and Lynn Wenzel: Supreme Court ruling condones ‘made-up science’ misleading pregnant women
June 29, 2018
The Supreme Court this week ruled against California law, condoning non-medical facilities that lure pregnant women to fake clinics that promise options but provide only lies and misinformation.
Often called "crisis pregnancy centers," these facilities offer pregnancy testing, but virtually no medical care and no referrals to legitimate women's health clinics or other providers of pregnancy care.
Instead, they expose "clients" to religiously based moralizing aimed at dissuading women from considering all their reproductive options, even including birth control.
In 2015, California enacted the Reproductive FACT Act, to require pseudo-clinics to disclose the truth about their operations and to refer women to legal comprehensive medical services. It required facilities to inform their "clients" — mostly lower income women — of California's public programs for free or low-cost comprehensive family planning services, prenatal care, and abortion.
The Court’s decision tragically legitimizes the use of deceptive tactics, allowing fake clinics to use ‘made-up science’ to steer women away from the care they seek.
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Importantly, facilities not licensed by the state as medical facilities needed to notify their clients of that fact.
This 5-4 ruling is especially harmful to low-income women in rural towns like ours. The Court's decision tragically legitimizes the use of deceptive tactics, allowing fake clinics to use "made-up science" to steer women away from the care they seek. How tragic that women with limited resources will now continue receiving dangerously inaccurate information about their medical conditions.
Here in Nevada County, we have a genuine reproductive health clinic, staffed and overseen by medical professionals provided by Women's Health Specialists and sustained by community partner Nevada County Citizens for Choice (C4C). The clinic is low-cost or free to all. Community residents often end up at the clinic after being directed by misleading advertising to our local fake clinic and consequently being frustrated in their attempts to gain medical information and care.
Of the over 230 fake clinics in California, nearly 30 percent are located in rural California; that already means barriers in transportation, cost, time and specialty care. Shockingly, 93 percent of California counties have fake clinics, yet most do not have access to medically-accurate reproductive health care.
We in western Nevada County are fortunate that we do have a real reproductive health clinic. And, we believe it is just plain wrong to allow fake clinics to lawfully deceive low-income women, youth and people living in rural communities across the state.
Citizens for Choice and Indivisible Women of Nevada County/Women's Rights Subgroup will not be silenced. We intend to stand up for the right of all citizens to, at a minimum, access timely, legal and accurate reproductive health care.
Elaine Sierra is director of public policy for Nevada County Citizens for Choice. Lynn Wenzel is public relations chair for Nevada County Citizens for Choice and an Indivisible Women of Nevada County/Women's Rights member.