Austin City Council Member Bill Spelman proposed an ordinance last week that would require certain pregnancy crisis centers to notify clients when birth control services or abortion services are not offered. The city of Austin would be the second city in the country to have such a law. The Austin American-Statesman reports that the city of Baltimore is now the only city that has this type of ordinance in place.
The council member is proposing certain requirements for pregnancy crisis centers that don't offer or refer clients to abortion services or birth control services. Such centers would have to display two , 8.5- by 11 -inch signs at the entrance of their facilities saying "This center does not provide abortions or refer to abortion providers. This center does not provide or refer to providers of U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved birth control drugs and medical devices." One sign would have to be in English and one in Spanish, and both would have to have a font size of at least 48 points.
Failure to comply with the law could be punishable with a a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by fines of up to $450 per offense. The purpose of the ordinance is to promote truth in advertising and provide accurate information to women seeking urgent medical information. There are a few pregnancy crisis centers that provide free or low-cost pregnancy tests, adoption counseling and financial assistance for women with unplanned pregnancies, but don't provide information about abortion or birth control services.
The council will consider Mr. Spelman's proposal on Thursday.