Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Are crisis pregnancy centers deceptive?

I've received some helpful comments in response to my earlier questions.  Matt Bowman writes:

CPCs aren't deceptive and . . . the purpose of the law is to give the impression that they are to good people like yourself. But in my view another very important point is that disclosure restrictions are always one sided. They never require Planned Parenthood to declare formally that they do not refer to CPCs, which would be the equivalent of requiring CPCs to say they don't do abortions. Doesn't the detailed accessibility of free pro-pregnancy support constitute relevant and essential information to every woman walking into Planned Parenthood? In a very similar fashion in the health care conscience context, Planned Parenthood, Alta Charo, et al. always want to require pro-life doctors to disclose that they don't to abortions, but they will never even suggest much less agree to require all doctors to disclose whether they do or do not do abortions. Ironically, such one-sided disclosure is sold based on principles of neutrality and patient information. But on those concepts there is no principled reason to apply them only to pro-life providers. Instead they are based on non-neutral assumptions about the baseline of what proper health care is, meaning that pro-life pregnancy centers and pro-life Ob/Gyns are substandard and need correction by disclosure, whereas abortionists are already up to par. So it's the people supporting partial disclosure who are not telling patients the whole truth.

Anjan Ganguly writes:

The way you frame the question seems to presume the normativity of abortion and birth control. Must the default assumption be that providing medical help to women with "crisis" pregnancies means providing abortion? Does providing sexual-health services to young people automatically implicate birth control? Should crisis pregnancy centers be making the nature of their services clear on their own[?]". From the little I know, such clinics are forthright about providing pre-natal care, counseling, adoption services, and the like; they seem to say that they do what's best for women and unborn children, which, in their view,objectively excludes abortion and birth control. Certainly people disagree strongly as to whether abortion and birth control could be in a woman's or child's best interests, but to suggest that pro-life clinics are engaging in deception by not declaring their position suggests that pro-choice clinics are the moral norm.

And John O'Herron argues that most crisis pregnancy centers are not misleading.  As for those that arguably are misleading, he writes:

[Those CPCs] would say that they are able to save more lives that way and, since they are not out outright telling a lie, then there is nothing wrong. It seems to me like they are misleading though. I guess the question would be whether misleading is wrong. If I can convince someone who is considering doing something as gravely immoral as abort their child that I can help them, only to try to change their mind, I don't know that I did something wrong. I guess I just don't think that people trying to get abortions deserve the honest services and assistance in such an endeavor at the outset. Though if there are false statements in the name, description, or consultation, even if it did save a life, it would clearly be wrong. And there may be a prudential question as well-is this is an effective way to save lives and change hearts. Though I think on that front, it is. The people who get worked up about them "lying" to vulnerable women, etc. are the same ones who think they should be passing out condoms and refering to Planned Parenthood. I'm not concerned about losing their vote.


Vischer, Rob | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Are crisis pregnancy centers deceptive? :