Thursday, February 4, 2010

Victory! CPC Bill at UMD

Last week, the University of Maryland: College Park SGA passed a bill against advertising in Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). The bill went through several phases and is going to be used in a campaign to remove CPC advertisements from UMCP's campus.

CPCs have been a staple in the the campus newspaper's advertising. They have appeared both in the newspaper itself and, more frequently, online. An example of the online ad can be found here:

The first phase of the bill was the drafting of it. I initially submitted the Feminist Majority Foundation's version of the bill to the SGA, but it was rejected due to its ties to a specific campus community and for being too vague in general (A version of this bill can be found in the Expose Fake Clinics toolkit).

The second version of the bill used FMF's version as its foundation, but tied the CPC issue closer to the community and its needs. This is the bill that went to committee.

The final version of the bill that came out of committee was drastically different from the one that went in. First, it focused the bill primarily on the "false advertising" aspect of the CPCs and away from the pro-choice/anti-choice debate. The reason for doing this was so that the bill had a better chance of being passed and so that any anti-choice criticism could be dismissed. Second, the bill used softer language (recommending instead of demanding) and specifically targeted misleading CPC advertisements in our community. Third, since the committee didn't really see how the University President could advocate on the behalf of anti-CPC efforts, that section was removed.

The debate before the bill was voted on largely focused on the CPC's right to advertise in our community and the singling out of CPCs as pro-life organizations. The opposition argued that we were limiting the free speech of CPCs and that we unfairly targeted CPCs as non-clinic/non-referral sites. The affirmative responded by stating that we were not limiting free speech as the CPC's speech fell under a different category of speech that was separate from the individual one. We likened the bill to a "truth in advertising" effort and compared it to the warnings on a package of cigarettes. We responded to the non-clinic/non-referral claim by saying we were against non-clinic pro-choice places as well, but the fact that this was a non-issue made us decide on CPCs.

Anton was a FMF intern in Fall 2009 and is a junior at the University of Maryland - College Park.

1 comment:

Laura said...