WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) Thursday led a group of Senate colleagues in introducing the Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation (SAD) Act that would ban false advertising related to abortion services by Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
The bill directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to prohibit deceptive or misleading advertising related to the provision of abortion services and collect penalties from organizations in violation.
Each year, thousands of pregnant people seeking objective and medically sound reproductive health care end up walking into crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), who falsely and deliberately advertise themselves as comprehensive reproductive health care providers, yet, their intent is to discourage pregnant people from having abortions.
“Reproductive rights remain under a coordinated assault by Republicans across the nation including the latest attempts to ban medication abortion, which is why it is so critical that we preserve access to trusted information and comprehensive reproductive health care services,” Menendez said. “Our bicameral SAD Act, will direct the FTC to prohibit deceptive and misleading advertisements about abortion services by crisis pregnancy centers that jeopardize women’s health and well-being. It is time to crack down on these centers, stop their harmful and misleading tactics, and finally hold them accountable for their actions.”
CPCs routinely use a variety of deceptive tactics, including making false claims about reproductive health care and disseminating inaccurate, misleading, and stigmatizing information about abortion and contraception. Additionally, most CPCs in the United States do not employ licensed medical personnel or provide referrals for birth control or abortion care.
According to the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) Public Health and Surveillance, there are more than 2,500 CPCs in the United States, though some anti-abortion groups claim that the number is closer to 4,000. One study found that, on average, CPCs outnumber abortion clinics nationwide by an average of 3 to 1, but in some states, the ratio is as high as 11 to 1. According to published reports, New Jersey has 54 crisis pregnancy centers with at least one in every county.
Joining Sen. Menendez in introducing the legislation are Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.).
House cosponsors include Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.-01) and Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Ohio-13), as well as Lori Trahan (D-Mass.-3), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.-7), Dina Titus (D-Nev.-1), Mark Takano (D- Calif.-39), Katie Porter (D-Calif.-47), Marc Veasey (D-Texas-33), Nikema Williams (D-Ga.-05), Summer Lee (D-Pa.-12), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.-03), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine-1), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.-25), Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas-07), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.-12), Annie Kuster (D-N.H.-02), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.-16), Gerald Connolly (D-Va.-11), Nikki Budzinski (D-Ill.-13), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.-04), Lois Frankel (D-Fla.-21), Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas-30), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.-5), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.-01), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.-04), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.-5), Alma Adams (D-N.C.-12), Veronica Escobar (D-Texas-16), Judy Chu (D-Calif.-28), Jennifer McClellan (D-Va.-4), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.-01), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-District of Columbia-At Large), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.-51), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.-12), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.-02), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.-07), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.-2), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.-12), Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii-02), Becca Balint (D-Vt.-At Large), Colin Allred (D-Texas-32), Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.-05), Andrea Salinas (D-Ore.-06), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.), and Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.-04).
The legislation is endorsed by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, American Public Health Association, Guttmacher Institute, Power to Decide, National Women’s Law Center, National Birth Equity Collaborative, National Organization for Women, National Women’s Health Network, Medical Students for Choice, Black Mamas Matter Alliance, National Health Law Program (NHeLP), IPAS Partners for Reproductive Justice, Physicians for Reproductive Health, National Council of Jewish Women, Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, Catholics for Choice, American Atheists, and National Council of Jewish Women New York.
“Everybody deserves to have access to accurate, comprehensive, and unbiased medical information to make personal decisions about their health and bodies,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju. “NARAL applauds Rep. Bonamici and Sen. Menendez’s leadership on the Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act, which would help put an end to false advertising from fake health centers that intentionally lie to, shame, and mislead pregnant people seeking an abortion in order to block them from accessing care. As we continue to face an abortion rights and access crisis, now is the time to fight for our freedom to access care and ensure that health information is accurate and unbiased.”
“Anti-abortion facilities cause chaos and confusion by using disinformation to mislead and deter people from getting the basic health care services they need and deserve,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Everyone should have medically accurate and unbiased information about their health care options. Thank you to Representatives Bonamici and Sykes and Senators Warren and Menendez for fighting against dangerous disinformation at a time when abortion access is under unprecedented attack.”