Friday, January 15, 2010

How to get "truth in advertising" legislation passed in your city

Many campuses across the country have done an amazing job getting the word out about "fake clinics," or so called Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). Raising awareness is key in ensuring that no person enters a CPC without knowing the services that they do and DO NOT provide. Recently, the city of Baltimore set a new precedent in tackling the deceptive practices of CPCs.

A couple of months ago, Baltimore, MD became the first city to pass a city ordinance that required CPCs in the city post disclaimers saying that their facility does not provide or make referrals for abortions or birth control services. This is a huge victory in the fight for choice and the quest for comprehensive women's health services. Many other cities are already introducing similar bills to their city council.

As a new component to our Campaign to Expose Fake Clinics, we want to encourage our campus groups to follow suit by working to get this type of legislation passed in your city. It may seem daunting, but if you follow these simple steps, you too can get a bill that demands "truth in advertising" from CPCs passed in your community.

1. Know the Facts
  • First, you need to know the facts about the CPCs near your campus and around your community. Where is the nearest Crisis Pregnancy Center from your campus? Does your Campus Health Center refer women seeking reproductive services to CPCs? If so, get them to stop, or in the very least, make them include a disclaimer in their referral. What deceptive practices do the CPCs in your area use? What do they say about abortion and birth control? Do your research!
2. Contact your Campus Organizer
  • Contact your campus organizer! We have many resources that will be helpful to you in this process, including the text of the Baltimore legislation, studies about CPCs, and studies disproving the misinformation CPCs say about the dangers of abortion. We can offer you guidance and connect you with the right resources.
3. Collaborate with other Pro-Choice Organizations, Gain Support Through your Community and Generate Publicity
  • Building coalitions with other pro-choice organizations will be extremely helpful. You should look into getting in contact with someone from Planned Parenthood or NARAL, in addition to us at the Feminist Majority Foundation. Also look into local pro-choice orgs in your area. Remember, there are power in numbers!
  • Get support for your bill by getting the word out to your campus and community. Print flyers, make announcements in classrooms, get newspapers and other news outlets to cover the story. Make sure people who are about this issue know what's going on. As a collective voice, rally in support of the bill
4. Identify a Pro-Choice Member of your City Council
  • Find someone of your City Council that you think would be interested in helping with this type of legislation. Arrange a meeting with them.
5. Present the Facts & Make your Case
  • Meet with your City Council Member or a member of their staff. Present the facts and signatures from our petition that you have gathered. Let them know the risks that CPCs pose, their threat to your campus, and their deceptive practices. Show them a copy of the Baltimore ordinance and ask your city council representative to sponsor similar legislation. Use this language from the Baltimore ordinance as a guide to create a law requiring a limited-service pregnancy center (or CPC) to clearly provide its clients and potential clients with a statement that their center does not provide or make referral to abortion or birth control services
6. Attend Hearings and Show Support until the Ordinance Passes
  • Monitor the progress of your proposal. Follow up, and attend any hearings regarding possible legislation. Continue to show your support and commitment to “truth in advertising” until an ordinance is passed. Mobilize your campus and community supporters to do the same.
It's as easy as that! Be sure the check out our resources pages for all the info you'll need to get you started on this. And be sure to check out our CPC action kit for a handout outlining the points I've just elaborated on.

Join the National grassroots effort to pass laws that would require "truth in advertising" for your city's CPCs!!!

This article was featured in our January 2010 monthly Choices eZine. Sign up for our alerts to stay up-to-date with the latest feminist news and to receive the monthly eZine.

No comments: