Monday, 5 April 2010

Truthiness on the March

Wow! The notion that crisis pregnancy centers, aka fake clinics, be forced to tell the truth is catching on! In Texas, of all places.
On the Austin City Council's agenda for its April 8 meeting is a proposed ordinance that would require so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" to post a sign to notify consumers that they do not provide or make referrals for either abortion or contraceptive services.

If the ordinance is enacted, Austin would become the second city in the nation to provide the consumer alert for clients visiting CPCs – unlicensed centers that provide pregnancy tests and pregnancy "counseling," but do not offer any medical services. "We are simply requiring limited service pregnancy centers to disclose what is factual and true about the services they offer," Council member Bill Spelman, who is sponsoring the ordinance, said in a press release.

Austin seems to be a pretty progressive place. It's not only the state capital but also a college town. It has been named the second-best place to live, the best college town, and the greenest city in the US.

But this initiative towards truthiness is expected to get some push-back.
It seems likely that the proposal will spark some angry feedback – CPC supporters, most staunch foes of abortion, have long been loud, both in the city (as it was with the Central Health board of directors meeting last year during a debate over whether to approve $450,000 in contracts to provide abortion care to low-income and uninsured women through the county's Medical Assistance Program), and at the Capitol (witness the perennial marathon hearings before the House State Affairs Committee whenever the topic of abortion arises).

Ah, yes, the great state of Texas.
Indeed, in 2005 lawmakers took $5 million that would otherwise go to providers of traditional family-planning services for low-income women to create (via a budget rider) the new "Alternatives to Abortion" program, as a way to directly fund CPCs and task them with "promoting childbirth." In a series of articles, the Chronicle found that the money hasn't exactly done much to provide women with any real services – aside from referring them to other state and federal programs, and providing a nice annual raise for Vincent Friedewald, the executive director of the Texas Pregnancy Care Network, which administers the state contract.

Typical. Just like the 'abstinence-only' sex ed caper, a boondoggle of gigantic proportions, benefiting nobody but the fetus fetishists lining their pockets. According to the series, over two years exactly eleven (11) women were helped by the program, while thousands of low-income women were denied basic healthcare.

We keep asking: What's the big deal with telling the truth? That's all these regulations are aiming to do -- force public organizations to tell the truth about what services they offer.

Or are they? LifeShite proposes two reasons -- in the same piece -- for those dastardly forcers of truthtelling.

Reason 1:
The goal is to besmirch the work the centers do in helping women find alternatives and pregnancy support.

Besmirch???11!? Quick! Hie thee to a fainting couch! (And besides, how does truthtelling besmirch anyone but former liars caught out?)

Reason 2:
With pregnancy centers providing women legitimate help and alternatives, abortion businesses are experiencing a loss in profit as the number of abortions decline.

Even though nothing is offered in evidence for this supposed loss, let's consider how forcing fake clinics to tell the truth benefits the abortion business's bottom line.

A willingly pregnant woman finds her way to a fake clinic, reads the sign informing her that she won't be able to be referred for an abortion there, and what? Decides that, dammit, having an abortion is her right and she's gonna go get herself one RIGHT NOW?

Idiotic. They don't have a leg to stand on and they know it.


Cliff said...

I have one of these pestilant scam operations a block from my home - I'm going to look into what would be involved with proposing this kind of legislation to city council. Of course I live in Calgary so I won't be holding my breath.

J. A. Baker said...

As a native Austinite, I can attest truthfully to the fact that Austin is a nice place to live (most of the time) and very congenial to folks of a certain political philosophy. (This is why the local Rethugs always refer to the place as "The People's Republic of Austin/Travis County.")

That said, one of the biggest problems I've had with living here are the blisteringly hot summers. We had 33 days of 100+ degrees Fahrenheit (37+ Celsius) over the entire summer of 2000 and a record-breaking 21 days of 100+ temperatures in 2001 (although I think we came close to that last year).

The other major problem with Austin is the shitty traffic. The Interstate Highway that runs through Austin, IH-35, and Loop 1 (aka MoPac Boulevard) are frequently backed-up (and frequent sites of traffic accidents) during rush hour, and northbound U.S. Highway 183 (aka Research Boulevard) is a virtual parking lot during evening rush hour. Worse, the city transit system is woefully inadequate - it's almost entirely busses (thus contributing to the traffic problems) and the routes aren't exactly what anyone would call "convenient."

In spite of Austin's reputation as a liberal haven, there's always major resistance to improving the city's mass transit system. We just now got our first light rail route two weeks ago - and it took a LOT of teeth-pulling just to get that.

Don't get me wrong: I love Austin, but it's got some serious problems that need fixing before I could unconditionally recommend it to anyone. And that's without considering the rapidly deteriorating condition of our country's political system.

fern hill said...

Cliff: Good on ya. The ProChoice Network did a report a few years ago on CPCs in BC. Executive summary here and there's a pdf available. I imagine they are much the same everywhere. I also remember an article from a few years ago -- might have been Edmonton though -- in the weekly freebie about a couple of young women going undercover to find out what lies these liars told. In the US college press, there are regular stories about such investigations. The kids seem to enjoy them.

You know any young women wannabe actors or journalists?

fern hill said...

JAB: Ha. Your location has always perplexed me. I thought you must be a very lonely liberal down there. I'm glad to hear there are others to keep you company. ;)

Mandos said...

JAB: You shouldn't feel too bad about the transit situation. Ottawa, Canada has the very same problem, it's not just Austin. Getting light rail has been like the proverbial eternal trip to the dentist.

Cliff said...

Started a Clinic disclosure law Facebook group to test the waters - these are really easy to set up for anybody who'd like to do one for their own cities.

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