Senator Bob Menendez Outraged By Tactics Used By Google Allowing Misleading Anti-Abortion Ads From Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Photo Credit: Politico

Senator Bob Menendez tweeted the following on Saturday afternoon:

“This is outrageous. My Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act would ban false ads related to abortion services so pregnant women can access medically sound reproductive health care.”

The Senator is referring to a CNN Business report published on Thursday, June 15, 2023 entitled,

Google earned $10 million by allowing misleading anti-abortion ads from ‘fake clinics,’ report says

The opening paragraph of the article states, “Google has earned more than $10 million over the past two years by allowing misleading advertisements for “fake” abortion clinics that aim to stop women from having the procedure, according to an estimate from a report released Thursday from the non-profit Center for Countering Digital Hate.”

In April, Menendez sponsored and introduced legislation known as the Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act.  Menendez’s legislation would direct the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit Crisis Pregnancy Centers from using deceptive tactics and fine those that do.  Currently in New Jersey, there are more than 50 crisis pregnancy centers, with at least one in every county.

Each year, thousands of pregnant women 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,” said Sen. Menendez. “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.

Joining Menendez in support of his proposed legislation are 13 United States Senators acting as co-sponsors, including Cory Booker of New Jersey, and 45 House co-sponsors, including New Jersey Congressional Representatives Josh Gottheimer and Bonnie Watson Coleman.

Menendez’s 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.”

The full text of the legislation can be found HERE.

Earlier this week, Senators Menendez and Booker joined with Senate and House colleagues in reintroducing legislation to codify the right to access contraception.

The bicameral Right to Contraception Act, legislation that would codify and strengthen the right to contraception, which the Supreme Court first recognized more than half a century ago in its Griswold v. Connecticut decision. Enshrining the right to contraception into federal law would reverse steps already taken by Republicans in states across the country to restrict access to contraceptives and ensure that any future attempt by the far-right majority on the Supreme Court to overturn Griswold would not endanger access to this essential reproductive health care.

The lawmakers first introduced the legislation last July in the wake of Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — which overturned Roe v. Wade and the Constitutional right to an abortion. In his concurring opinion, Justice Thomas urged the Court to “reconsider” its substantive due process precedents, including Griswold.

“Reproductive rights remain under a coordinated assault by Republicans across the nation including the latest attempts to ban medication abortion. It’s critical that we work to reverse steps taken by the far-right and codify the right to contraception for all Americans,” said Sen. Menendez. “The Right to Contraception Act would safeguard the ability to access this essential reproductive health care without interference. We must protect these rights so everyone, regardless of race, socio-economic status, or zip code, has equal access to essential health services.”

“Birth control is a crucial part of reproductive health care,” said Sen. Booker. “At a time when reproductive rights are under attack throughout the country, protecting Americans’ access to contraception is more important than ever. By enshrining the right to contraception into federal law, the Right to Contraception Act would protect access to this fundamental right so individuals can control their own bodies and futures.”

Although nine out of 10 American adults support access to all forms of birth control, several states restrict access to contraceptives by eliminating public funding for it, defining abortion broadly enough to include contraception, and allowing health care providers to deny service related to contraception on the basis of their own beliefs. Attacks on health care, especially reproductive health care, fall hardest on Black, Brown, Indigenous and immigrant communities, as well as LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, low-income people, and those living in rural and underserved areas.

Specifically, the Right to Contraception Act would uphold access to contraception by

  1. Guaranteeing the legal right for individuals to get and use contraception and for health care providers to provide contraceptives, contraception, and information, referrals, and services related to contraception;
  2. Prohibiting the federal government or any state from administering, implementing, or enforcing any law, rule, regulation, standard or other provision that would prohibit or restrict the sale, provision, or use of contraception; and
  3. Allowing the Department of Justice (DOJ), providers, and individuals harmed by restrictions on contraception access made unlawful under the legislation, to go to court to enforce these rights.

32 Senators support the bill, while 71 House members back it.

The Right to Contraception Act is endorsed by Advocates for Youth, AIDS United, American Atheists, American College of Nurse-Midwives, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Americans for Contraception, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, Catholics for Choice, Center for American Progress, Center for Biological Diversity, CenterLink: The Community of LGBTQ Centers, Coalition to Expand Contraceptive Access, Contraceptive Access Initiative, Equality California, Girls Inc., Hadassah, House Pro-Choice Caucus, Ibis Reproductive Health, Interfaith Alliance, Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, Minority Veterans of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Coalition of STD Directors, National Council of Jewish Women , National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, National Health Law Program, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Women’s Law Center, People For the American Way, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Population Connection Action Fund, Power to Decide, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Reproductive Health Access Project, Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, The Collaborative, and Upstream USA.