Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin issued a statement last week in support of a bill that would ban deceptive advertising practices of limited-services pregnancy centers that attempt to dissuade women from getting abortions.
“This legislation is rooted in a very simple principle: women deserve to be told the truth—especially when they’re making choices about their own health and wellbeing,” Bronin said in his testimony addressed to the Public Health Committee.
The bill provides that: “No limited services pregnancy center shall make or disseminate…in any newspaper or other publication, through any advertising device, or in any other manner…any statement concerning any pregnancy-related service or the provision of any pregnancy-related service that is false, misleading or deceptive or that a limited services pregnancy center reasonably should know to be false, misleading or deceptive, or with the intent not to perform such pregnancy-related service as advertised.”
The bill is modelled after a policy that was passed in the city of Hartford in December.
“In response to an apparent effort to mislead women, the City of Hartford enacted a similar ordinance based on the same principle,” Bronin said.
The Hartford GYN Center, the only independent, state-licensed family planning clinic in Connecticut, offers women’s health services that include abortions through the 21st week of pregnancy.
Last year, a pro-life “crisis pregnancy center,” called the Hartford Women’s Center across the street from the Hartford GYN Center.
“That alone isn’t necessarily a problem – the Women’s Center certainly has a right to provide the services it wants,” Bronin said. “However, we heard a number of complaints about women who felt the Women’s Center tried to deceive them.”
Bronin said women had reported that the Women’s Center attempted to lure them away from the GYN Center. The statement said women would go in for an appointment at the GYN Center and be encouraged to visit the Women’s Center instead, and that the center would lure in women trying to find the GYN Center.
The Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference said in an email, “This malicious effort is part of a national campaign to harass and eventually shut down anti-abortion pregnancy centers,” as reported by the Hartford Courant.
Bronin emphasized that abortion rights are not the center of this debate; rather, it is about providing women with accurate information regarding their health.
“Regardless of your views on abortion, we should all agree that dishonest conduct is wrong,” Bronin said. “The legislation before you today would prohibit the kind of deception women in Hartford have been exposed to, while doing nothing to infringe on first-amendment rights.”
Anna Zarra Aldrich is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @ZarraAnna.