Legislation that would mandate pregnancy help organizations to post government-specified signage and notification of available abortion services is set to be heard in the California State Assembly Monday, May 18.
The bill, AB 775, euphemistically called “The Reproductive FACT Act” by its supporters and co-authors David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood), has passed the Assembly’s Health and Judiciary Committees, and was scheduled for its third reading Thursday before getting pulled from the schedule.
If passed, the bill would move to the State Senate, which is made up of 25 Democrats and 14 Republicans.
Tweet This: California's "Bully Bill" AB775 to be read a third time Monday, May 18
Opponents of the bill have argued that it would force the state’s life-affirming pregnancy help organizations to violate conscience by referring for abortion due to in part to the following disclaimer, which they argue amounts to unconstitutional government-compelled speech:
California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [insert the telephone number].
“This bill forces all California pregnancy centers to refer for abortions,” Sheldon Hadley, who represented the opposition at the Judiciary Committee April 28, said. “The bill targets pregnancy centers, and pregnancy centers alone… The authors of AB 775 know the Hyde/Weldon Amendment prohibits abortion referrals and discrimination or forced abortion referrals, and therefore were careful to avoid using the word ‘referral’ in the bill. But a rose is still a rose under any other name.”
Meanwhile, the bill’s authors and supporters have continued to assert that the bill does not require pregnancy help organizations to refer for abortions, despite its inclusion of both information and a telephone number of where a woman can obtain an abortion at government cost in the state.
Nicknamed, “The Bully Bill” by opponents, AB 775 is based on a “investigative report” from NARAL Pro-Choice California that contains only one citation—and a circular one at that—and recommendations from a 2010 University of California at Hastings report.
Despite the lack of factual evidence to support the statement, the bill’s authors openly contend that pregnancy help organizations’, “intentionally deceptive advertising and counseling practices often confuse, misinform, and even intimidate women from making fully-informed, time-sensitive decisions about critical health care.”
Tweet This: California AB775 would compel government-sponsored speech promoting abortion by #prolife pregnancy centers
Among the accusations of misinformation, the bill’s authors include the claim they say many pregnancy help organizations make, that abortion may increase the risk of breast cancer.
While the bill’s authors cite the claim as an instance of “misinformation” used to “intimidate women,” the link between abortion and an increased risk of contracting breast cancer has been indicated by 55 of the 70 epidemiological studies conducted since 1957.
The American College of Pediatricians has also published a position paper confirming the link between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer, and recently weighed in on the issue with a recent press release encouraging women to “Know your ABCs.”
“Our goal is to help women in unplanned pregnancies take time to be informed and not rush to a life-altering decision,” Valerie Hill, CEO of RealOptions, which has three Bay Area locations that are each licensed with the California Department of Public Health, said. “We endeavor to help a woman holistically: emotionally, practically, medically, and spiritually, so that she can make a decision that she will be able to live with and that will not go against her own moral code.”