Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

May 5, 2021

Sen. Anwar Votes in Favor of Legislation to Prohibit Deceptive Advertising by Crisis Pregnancy Centers

HARTFORD, CT – Today, from the state Capitol Building, state Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor) voted for legislation to prohibit deceptive advertising by crisis pregnancy centers in Connecticut. The legislation, Senate Bill 835, “An Act Concerning Deceptive Advertising Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers,” passed by a 21-15 tally and will move to the state House of Representatives.

“This bill is not about pro-life versus pro-choice, as people have made it out to be,” said Sen. Anwar. “It is about false advertisements and manipulating health care consumers. It’s about honesty and transparency. It’s also about the actual harm being done to women’s health. Limited service pregnancy centers provide care for the limited areas they are interested in; it is important their advertisements are true and transparent about what they offer, not deceptive.”

SB 835 passed the Public Health Committee by a 20-13 vote in February and, if advanced from the House to the governor’s desk for enactment, this legislation would prohibit deceptive advertising by limited services pregnancy centers, which it defines as pregnancy services centers that do not directly provide, or provide referrals for, abortions or emergency contraception. Per the Office of Legislative Research, this bill specifically prohibits them, with intent to perform a pregnancy-related service, from publicly making or disseminating a deceptive statement about the provision of these services or the services themselves that the center knows or reasonably should know is deceptive. The prohibition includes public statements made in advertisements, print publications, online, or any other manner and it applies regardless of whether the centers make these statements themselves or cause others to do so and statement itself is deceptive or is deceptive by omission. If enacted, the bill goes into effect on July 1.

Limited service pregnancy centers, also referred to as crisis pregnancy centers (CPC) have garnered national and statewide attention for deceptive practices in which scientific-based information crucial to a woman’s decision regarding their pregnancy is supplanted with nonscientific or faith-based evidence to coerce woman from getting an abortion. According to a March 2018 report on inherently unethical practices of CPCs from the American Medical Association, “They strive to appear as sites offering clinical services and unbiased advice. Lay volunteers who are not licensed clinicians at CPCs often wear white coats and see women in exam rooms.” The report continues, “Despite looking like legitimate clinics, most CPCs are not licensed, and their staff are not licensed medical professionals… perhaps most worrisome, regardless of whether a particular location is licensed, CPCs engage in counseling that is misleading or false. Despite claims to the contrary, these centers do not meet the standard of patient-centered, quality medical care.”

What’s more, during the public testimony period of legislative session, Lauren Marazzi, a fifth year MD/PhD student in Farmington said, “In medical school, we are extensively trained and tested on how to communicate with patients to effectively build a strong patient-provider relationship and enter into an informed decision-making paradigm. Our training goal, and eventual goal as providers, is to accurately explain all options of treatment for any medical condition, pregnancy included, so that our patients feel empowered to make the decision that is best for their health and their lives. Performing this action requires education, trust, empathy, and honesty. I simply do not see how informed decision making by a pregnant person can be achieved via counseling with volunteers at centers whose websites display medically unsound information regarding abortions.”

Additionally, the American Civil Liberties Union Connecticut chapter commented on SB 835, “This bill addresses a problem that arises when limited service pregnancy centers (commonly referred to as crisis pregnancy centers or CPCs) do not offer medical services, complete information, or referral to healthcare providers who offer a range of medical services, but advertise in such a way that potential clients would think that the CPC does offer some or all of those services.”