Pregnancy Clinics Warned to Follow ‘Choice’ Law


Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said Monday he has taken steps to enforce a new state law that requires pregnancy centers and clinics to provide clients with referrals to low-cost or free abortion, contraception and family planning services, and he sent letters to six facilities to remind them to comply.

AB 775, which went into effect in January, requires that “there be accurate, clear information provided by these so-called crisis pregnancy centers,” Feuer said.

“We’re going to move forward to enforce the law,” Feuer said, even though some jurisdictions in California are holding off on enforcement until legal challenges from anti-abortion groups are resolved.

Feuer noted that “so far no court has agreed to suspend implementation of this law.”

“Waiting for a day, or a week, or a month to enforce this law threatens the health and safety of women who, during that time period, may not be informed of their choices,” Feuer said.

Matt Bowman, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom — which represents the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, or NIFLA — said AB 775 violates the First Amendment rights of pregnancy centers.

“Requiring pro-life pregnancy health centers to refer women for free abortions is a blatant violation of their free speech rights,” Bowman said.

A federal appeals court is set to hear the alliance’s challenge on June 14, Bowman said.

Attorneys for Humboldt County and the cities of Grass Valley and Eureka have agreed not to enforce the law while legal challenges are pending, according to court papers provided by Bowman.

Feuer said Monday he sent compliance notices to six pregnancy centers — two of which are unlicensed as medical facilities — to inform them of the law’s requirements. He noted, however, he had no evidence that any of them have been violating the law.

“They are varying entities that are obligated under the statutes of the law to comply with the law,” he said. “Whether they are or not remains to be seen.”

Feuer said he will send out more letters once he identifies additional centers in the city subject to the law.

The county Department of Business Consumer Affairs will follow-up on the notices with “investigations to ensure the laws are being effectuated by these crisis pregnancy centers,” Feuer said.

Under the state law, centers that offer counseling about pregnancy options or other pregnancy-related services are required to post information about how to access a range of programs, including abortion and contraception, or provide clients with the information on paper or digitally.

Facilities that are unlicensed must also disclose that they are not licensed as medical providers. The first offense of the law carries a $500 fine, while additional violations each have a $1,000 penalty.

Feuer’s office sent the notices to:
— Avenues Pregnancy Clinic, 862 N. Vermont Ave.;
— Los Angeles Pregnancy Services, 2524 W. Seventh St.;
— Claris Health Pregnancy Clinic, 11500 W. Olympic Blvd., Suite 570;
— Pregnancy Counseling Center, 10211 Sepulveda Blvd.;
— Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic, 9535 Reseda Blvd., Suite 303; and
— Harbor Pregnancy Help Center, 705 W. Pacific Coast Highway.

Several of the centers referred CNS to Bowman and other attorneys for NIFLA, which is a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits challenging the law.

Dan Steiner, executive director of Avenues Pregnancy Clinic, told CNS his facility has “always complied with the law” and that “every woman we’ve talked to, we’ve talked about abortion.”

Fawn Kemble, the client services director for the Claris Health Pregnancy Clinic in West Los Angeles, said the facility has been “in compliance since January” and has been providing pregnancy option information to clients with a paper handout. Claris CEO Talitha Phillips said that prior to
the law going into effect, the clinic was already providing information about abortion services, “anytime a woman wants information about options,” and the clinic is not among the groups challenging AB 775.

Feuer’s statements today were applauded by NARAL Pro-Choice California, which sponsored AB 775 together with Attorney General Kamala Harris and the group Black Women for Wellness.

“Today, the city and county of Los Angeles took a stand against anti-choice bullies that are using the courts to interfere with women’s reproductive health choices,” the group’s state director, Amy Everitt, said. “Other cities and counties should follow their lead and send a clear message that our
commitment to women’s health won’t be compromised.”

City Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who represents a San Fernando Valley district, said she received a complaint last year from a constituent that a pregnancy center — one of the six that received notices from Feuer — failed to offer information about abortion services.

“She went in for the full range of services and this particular option to terminate her pregnancy was not offered to her, and she ended up carrying to full term,” Martinez said.

Martinez said she recently introduced a motion addressing pregnancy centers that steer clients away from abortion. She described these centers as “often deceptive” and “detrimental to women when they are most vulnerable.”

“They make women believe that they are medical clinics or that they offer options for women who are pregnant, and they really don’t,” she said.

“In fact, in many of these centers … they keep information from women who are thinking about terminating their pregnancy, or they’ll pressure a woman into making a specific decision about her pregnancy which may not be the best option for her or her individual circumstances.”

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