229555 Truth in advertising: Regulation of crisis pregnancy centers

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 10:54 AM - 11:06 AM

Jennifer Todd, DrPH , School of Public Health, University of Maryland College Park, Rockville, MD
Duchy Trachtenberg, MSW , Office of Councilperson Duchy Trachtenberg, Montgomery County Council, Rockville, MD
Blakely Pomietto, MPH CHES , School of Public Health, University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD
Crisis pregnancy centers are agencies which purport to provide information and resources to pregnant women at little or no cost. These centers are staffed by pro-life individuals who are often affiliated with large Christian networks, and often do not have medical licensure or medical training. They provide counseling to pregnant women with the primary goal being to prevent abortion. The numbers of these centers is growing nationwide, with as many as 4,000 centers currently in operation. Increasing evidence shows that these crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) actually provide women with inaccurate or misleading information regarding women's health, contraception, and the risks associated with abortion. A report prepared for Rep. Henry Waxman by the Committee on Government Reform in 2006 found that 87% of the CPCs they contacted provided false or misleading information to women callers. In February 2010, the County Council of Montgomery County, Maryland, acting in the authority of the Board of Health, sought to address this issue by passing a regulation requiring pregnancy centers to disclose the actual scope of their services. They are now required to post signage notifying their clients that the Montgomery County Health Officer encourages women who are or may be pregnant to consult with a licensed health care provider. This session will describe the issue of crisis pregnancy centers, the problem of CPCs in Montgomery County, the relevant policy mechanisms available to make change, and the steps that were taken to pass this historic legislation: one of only two such regulations in the country.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Provision of health care to the public
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the potential barriers to care presented by crisis pregnancy centers. 2. Assess the use of health policy to regulate crisis pregnancy centers. 3. Identify potential allies for policy change in their own communities. 4. Name different policy mechanisms available at the county level to regulate crisis pregnancy centers.

Keywords: Abortion, Access to Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have years of training and experience working in public health and public health administration, including working on contentious issues of women's health and access to reproductive healthcare services.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.