Here in America, you have a shot at winning a lawsuit alleging that the organic lettuce you bought at the local grocery store was, gasp, actually coated in a thick layer of pesticides and artificial colorants. Consumer protection laws have been used liberally to protect Americans from the greed of corporations who would substitute inferior ingredients to cut costs and raise profit margins, require firearms manufacturers to install safety features on guns to keep children and the unaware from shooting themselves and to require service providers from teachers to accountants to home improvement contractors to maintain certain minimal levels of continuing education – not to mention basic levels of training – in order to hold onto those credentials.
Just a few months ago, in the beginning of March, I lauded the New York City Coucil for approving legislation to require crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to disclose whether or not they actually offer abortion services. Like a loan shark claiming that he will consolidate your debts, these organizations prey on women considering whether to carry pregnancies to term by advertising abortion services to lure their clients in.
The very image of anti-choice, however, CPCs then wage a campaign against choosing abortion through falsified medical brochures and untrained personnel. Many of these organizations do not even have a trained doctor on staff, just a volunteer wielding an ultrasound wand in the hopes of eking out a baby-like image on the screen to induce vulnerable women into feeling guilty about taking control of their bodies.
Knowing all this – how virulently Americans at all levels of government and the law have fought to protect consumers from false information and how vicious the falsified information from CPCs can be – it is, then, unfathomable that in a 22 page long ruling U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III ruled that the law was unconstitutional.
Apparently, it is more important that we protect the first amendment rights of anti-abortion proponents who are specifically seeking the right to lie to women than it is to protect the women that are deceived by them.
Yes, I realize that consumer protection laws arose from the government’s right to regulate commerce. Although there are those who are certain that there is a monetary component to abortion, my understanding is that CPCs are not driven by a desire to scam women out of their hard earned money but instead to scam them into giving birth to a baby that they will hand over. That that baby has a very real financial value to baby brokers and childless couples desperate to adopt is true, but let’s get to the heart of the problem here:
Somewhere along the way, we became more concerned with protecting money than with protecting people’s safety, health and dignity. Somehow it became more “offensive,” to use Judge Pauley’s preferred term, to require someone to tell the truth than to ask why they would lie in the first place.