Federal Court Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong upheld most of a 2011 San Francisco law that prohibits the false advertising of anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. First Resort, a CPC based in San Francisco, sued the state of California in response to the truth in advertising law, alleged that the law is vague, is preempted by state law, and is a violation of their equal protection rights. Armstrong ruled that the law is not vague enough to be confusing and that it is not preempted by state law. She also ruled, however, that the law burdens First Resort's "fundamental rights" to equal protection, thus requiring a strict scrutiny review of the law. Under strict scrutiny, a law can only be upheld in cases "where the law serves a compelling government interest."
The law is aimed at "ensuring that indigent women facing unexpected pregnancies are not harmed by false or misleading advertising by certain providers of pregnancy-related services." It applies to CPCs with limited services, such as First Resort, and others that do not provide abortion services and emergency contraception or referrals.
San Francisco was the first city in the nation to adopt a truth in advertising law for CPCs. Similar laws have been passed in Baltimore, Maryland; Montgomery County, Maryland; Austin, Texas; and New York, New York. All of these laws have been struck down as a result of legal challenges.
Media Resources: Jezebel 10/04/12; Courthouse News Service 10/03/12; Think Progress 10/05/12
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .