Supreme court will argue a bill that protects women's contraception access from fake clinics

Supreme court will argue a bill that protects women's contraception access from fake clinics
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On March 20, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in NIFLA v. Becerra, a case that challenges a California state law designed to ensure that women are not deceived when seeking to access reproductive health care.

It’s estimated that there are more than 2,700 fake women’s health centers — sometimes called crisis pregnancy centers — around the country. Fake women’s health centers are everywhere in the U.S. — more common than Target, Chipotle, or Papa Johns. These clinics may often look and describe themselves in ways that lead women to believe they are health-care facilities where the full range of contraceptive methods can be accessed.

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However, they are typically not staffed by medical professionals and offer false, incomplete, or inaccurate medical information and few if any clinical services. California’s law, the FACT Act, seeks to ensure that these fake clinics cannot deceive the public by providing transparency by requiring a notice informing the public that such a place is not a licensed medical facility nor is it supervised by licensed medical provider.

 

As the state notes in its own brief, “the only women whom the notice will dissuade from going to such a facility are those who would only have gone there because they were misled or confused.” No one should be deceived when seeking health care, including birth control.

Women face a number of obstacles when seeking to access birth control. In fact, research from Power to Decide shows that more than 19 million low-income women live in contraceptive deserts, where they lack reasonable access to a publicly funded clinic in their county that offers the full range of birth control methods.

Deep in the heart of those deserts, more than three million women in need live in counties without a single public clinic that offers the full range of contraceptive methods. These women should not find themselves further disenfranchised by finding themselves at a fake clinic that seeks to manipulate them with false or incomplete information.

Imagine driving hours to get to a clinic — after arranging for child care and time off from work — only to find out it’s a fake one, that doesn’t offer the birth control you were seeking. States like California that require transparency — just as they do when requiring businesses and skilled professionals to be licensed — should not be blocked from protecting the patients in the state.

While the court weighs these arguments, there are many resources women can use to help them locate publicly funded clinics offering birth control

This really shouldn’t be an argument. In fact, our recent polling shows that 87 percent of adults agree that everyone deserves the power to access the full range of birth control methods, no matter who they are, where they live, or what their economic status is.

The ability to plan, prevent, and space pregnancies is directly linked to numerous benefits to women, men, children, families, and society, including more educational and economic opportunities and healthier babies. All women deserve the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant.

To do this, they must have access to high quality, patient-centered contraceptive care delivered by medical professionals. No woman should be misled by a fake clinic when looking for health care. If this sounds like common sense, it’s because it is.

Rachel Fey is the director of public policy at Power to Decide, an organization which provides trusted, high-quality, accurate information — backed by research — on sexual health and contraceptive methods so young people can make informed decisions.