Centres of sexual health misinformation ?

A recent judgment by a federal judge in Baltimore US marks the another move in the ongoing political struggle around Crisis Pregnancy Centres (CPCs), or Limited Service Pregnancy Centres (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jan/28/pregnancy-disclaimer-law-ruled-unconstitutional/).

These volunteer run centres have established themselves with some social service agencies as an appropriate referral for women facing unintended pregnancy.  According to their detractors (e.g. Planned Parenthood), they supply ideologically motivated misinformation about pregnancy, STIs and contraception, and have been accused of withholding the results of pregnancy tests (http://www.ppvw.org/pressReleases/LSPCReportWebFINAL.pdf).

The judgment relates to an ordinance that took effect in Baltimore last year, requiring CPCs to post signs saying they do not provide abortions. The Baltimore judge ruled that the ordinance violated the Freedom of Speech Clause of the US Constitution.  The judgment, which is likely to be challenged on appeal, is a setback for the ongoing campaign to curb the influence of CPCs elsewhere in the US. Washington State, for example, with more than 40 CPCs, has just introduced similar legislation to ensure centres provide “accurate information about the services offered”.

Accurate sexual health information is, it seems, a valuable resource; some may find it hard to obtain when they need it most.

“Pregnancy disclaimer law ruled unconstitutional”, The Washington Times, Friday 28th January


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