Connecticut lawmakers on Wednesday passed a controversial bill that prohibits limited pregnancy centers from using “misleading advertising” about the pregnancy-related services they provide.
The bill, which now passes to the office of Democratic Governor Ned Lamont, cleared the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on a majority vote of 87 to 56, following a lengthy debate that spanned much of the day. The legislation was previously passed by the State Senate.
Proposed in previous legislative sessions, advocates who argue that the measure is necessary to ensure that women are not fooled into thinking that these generally faith-based centers are family planning clinics that provide abortions and other health care. reproductive health.
“You shouldn’t lie to a woman seeking legal health care in the state of Connecticut,” said Representative Jillian Gilchrest, D-West Hartford.
Critics of the bill, however, argue that it is an unnecessary overshoot by state government and abortion advocates that unfairly targets well-meaning organizations that want to help women, predicting that it would be challenged in court.
“This bill is about using the strong arm of government to steer people toward one choice, to end abortion pregnancies,” said Representative Mark Anderson, R-Granby.
Under the law, these centers, which do not directly offer abortions or provide referrals for abortions or emergency contraception, would be prohibited from making misleading statements about the provision of services they do not offer. not. The state attorney general must notify centers that violate the law in writing. If they do not respond within 10 days, the attorney general can apply for a court injunction requiring, among other things, that the center broadcast corrective advertising.
Centers that violate the deceptive advertising ban could also face civil penalties. There are currently 25 centers in the state and Gilchrest stressed that not all of them use deceptive practices and that the bill aims to ensure consistency.
Gilchrest said lawmakers heard from medical providers with patients who had been deceived by limited pregnancy centers in Connecticut, “delaying their care and causing them trauma.”