County to consider suing crisis pregnancy centers for alleged deceptive practices

County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer is urging her colleagues to get tough with local crisis pregnancy centers, asking them to consider not just a public education program on their practices but also filing a lawsuit “including but not limited to shutting down such centers.”

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The supervisor’s request will be considered at Tuesday’s regular board meeting and is detailed in a letter included in the board’s agenda, which is available online at sandiegocounty.gov.

Crisis centers have recently been criticized for attempting to pass themselves off as abortion providers, using internet search engines to reach women considering abortion and attempting to convince them to reconsider. A lawsuit filed by state Attorney General Rob Bonta last year targets two organizations promoting a practice called “abortion pill reversal” which the lawsuit called “an unproven and largely experimental procedure.”

A search of online content indexed by google.com in 2022 turned up roughly 16 such centers in San Diego County. Local crisis centers listed online did not respond Friday to requests for comment on the proposal.

Lawson-Remer said Thursday that she believes the county can and should follow Bonta’s lead.

“Women can end up in a position where they are trying to go see a doctor, to go see a medical expert, and instead they’re being lied to and misled to the extent where they’re delayed, delayed, delayed until their choice is taken from them,” the supervisor said.

The comment refers to an alleged practice of continuing consultations until a pregnancy is beyond the time limit allowed by state law.

In addition to asking the Board of Supervisors to consider litigation, the agenda item also requests that the county’s chief administrative officer consider what it would take to “create and implement a public education campaign that potentially include(s) billboards and social media ads” that would educate the public about crisis pregnancy centers and resources available to the public.

Dr. Antoinette Marengo, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, said Friday that it is hard to know exactly how many people crisis centers see, though they often set up shop very near clinics where abortions are offered.

Taking action as Lawson-Remer proposes, she said, is supported by many physicians.

“I don’t want to speak for the legal department, but as chief medical officer, I will say that they do not provide qualified medical care and that they make false claims,” Marengo said. “I think, from a medical standpoint, they should be shut down, they should not be able to advertise as providing medical care.”

Click here to read the full article in the SD Union Tribune

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