The Seattle City Council unanimously passed legislation, sponsored by Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2, Chinatown / International District and South Seattle) and Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle and South Park), to prohibit false and misleading advertising by crisis pregnancy centers.
What are crisis pregnancy centers?
Crisis Pregnancy Centers are clinics that often look like real reproductive health care centers, but instead of a medical perspective, they provide clients with an ideological one — that abortion and contraception are wrong. Researchers have well-documented their use of deceptive practices, which includes providing false or misleading medical information about the health risks of contraception and abortion.
Additionally, as Planned Parenthood notes, “Most crisis pregnancy centers aren’t legitimate medical clinics, so they don’t have to follow HIPAA and keep your information private, like most real health care providers do. These crisis pregnancy centers could even give your information to other anti-abortion organizations or use it to harass you. This could be especially concerning if you live in a state with anti-abortion laws.”
What will this legislation will do?
This legislation will prohibit crisis pregnancy centers from disseminating untrue statements about the pregnancy-related services they offer, including statement of omission.
The law will be enforced by the Seattle Department of Finance and Administrative Services’ (FAS) Consumer Protection Division. Violations could result in fines up to $1,000 per infraction. The bill would also permit the FAS Director to achieve enforcement by any other legal and equitable means, and it would permit the Director to request that the City Attorney prosecute violations criminally, as an alternative to the procedures described above.
“Crisis pregnancy centers are fake clinics that exist to surveil pregnant people and prevent their access to proper healthcare,” said Councilmember Morales. “These fake clinics outnumber real clinics by 3 to 1 across the US, including in the state of Washington. It’s critical that we as elected officials are aware of and taking steps to regulate the actions of these fake clinics, which exist to spread misinformation and collect personal health information while providing no actual medical services. I’m proud that my colleagues voted to pass this legislation today to continue taking steps to secure abortion access for all in Seattle.”
“Crisis pregnancy centers are pernicious organizations masquerading as healthcare to persuade pregnant people to not access medically-accurate, unbiased healthcare – exactly when they need it most. Since Seattle will remain a safe place for people seeking abortions, crisis pregnancy centers are likely to proliferate here, making today’s vote to regulate their false and harmful claims so vital,” said Councilmember Herbold.
Abortion protections in Seattle
Today’s vote continues the Council’s commitment to safeguarding reproductive healthcare for people in and who come to Seattle. Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, the Council has passed four additional pieces of legislation towards that goal. Visit our Protecting Abortion Access in Seattle webpage for more information on the four other actions Council has already taken.