Austin City Council To Pass Landmark Ordinance Protecting Women's Rights

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This Thursday, the Austin City Council will take up an item that will ensure that women of Central Texas are no longer taken advantage of by so-called “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” when they try to seek information and health care. Council Member Bill Spelman has sponsored an ordinance that will require these CPC's to disclose on their windows that they do not actually offer women the full range of their reproductive rights, from abortion to birth control.

Importantly, Austin will become only the second city in America to require this important disclosure, and enable our women to make informed decisions about their reproductive rights. From Council Member Spelman's Office, emphasis mine:

Limited service pregnancy centers are also known as crisis pregnancy centers.  Most centers' clients are young, low-income women seeking urgent information about their unintended pregnancy or about birth control options.  Limited service pregnancy centers most commonly provide free or low-cost pregnancy testing, adoptions counseling, and short-term material assistance for women with an unplanned pregnancy.

However, these facilities do not offer or refer for abortion or comprehensive birth control services and frequently fail to advise their clients of these important options.

Spelman's proposed ordinance would ensure that women are informed about the range of services offered by an Austin limited service pregnancy center by requiring the centers to post a sign disclosing that the facility does not offer or refer for abortion or comprehensive birth control services.

As proposed, the ordinance does not compel a limited service pregnancy center to say anything that its operators do not believe in or to provide services to which they object.  “This is a consumer awareness measure,” Spelman stated, “that helps women make safe, healthy, informed, and responsible decisions.”

Frankly, these so-called “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” are an affront to a woman's right to choose. Imagine a woman seeking honest information about her reproductive and health options–and instead being fed a bunch of erroneous, intentionally misleading information. NARAL has great research on how harmful these CPC's are to the health and reproductive freedom of women:

CPCs in Texas  and nationwide have a history of misleading pregnant women and teens by using inaccurate medical information and religious literature.  Because these programs are funded by taxpayer dollars, the programs are controversial at best, and at worst endanger women's health and violate the Federal Charitable Choice Act.

These CPC's tell women they'll get breast cancer if they have an abortion. The workers describe a bogus “post-abortion stress syndrome.” They ask women to imagine a vacuum in their uterus and how it might feel. NARAL's compilation of details about visits to these snake-oil salesmen are horrifying. These CPC's prey on women during some of the most difficult, challenging times in their lives.

And while the City of Austin cannot shut them down, at least the city can require a full disclosure of what services are and are not offered, and help women who want to exercise their right to choose seek out a provider who recognizes the validity of not only Roe v Wade but Griswold v Connecticut.

Want to weigh in? NARAL Pro-Choice Texas has two ways for you to show support for the women of Central Texas:

  • Email the Austin City Council members today and let them know that you support this important ordinance which will protect Austin women. It's quick and easy. Click here to be redirected to NARAL's site.
  • Join NARAL in support of this ordinance at the City Council meeting being held at City Hall tomorrow, April 8, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.

Thanks to the staff in Council Member Bill Spelman's office for providing this information to Burnt Orange Report, and a hearty thank you to Council Member Spelman for introducing this ordinance that will help protect the rights of women seeking reproductive care here in Austin.


About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.


  1. thank you to the City Council
    truth in advertising is always a good thing

    And the American Psychological Association says ” Mental health problems are not a direct result of choosing to have an abortion, an American Psychological Association task force has concluded.”

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