The King County Board of Health in Washington State has approved a new rule that requires crisis pregnancy centers to put up a sign that indicates they're not health care facilities.
On Thursday, the county board voted 11–1 in favor of Rule & Regulation BOH 17-04, which relates to "disclosure of information of limited service pregnancy centers," KIRO 7 reported.
Under the new regulation, crisis pregnancy centers, many of which are faith based, will be required to put up a sign in 10 different languages, warning potential clients that, "This facility is not a healthcare facility."
Board Chairman Rod Dembowski, a King County Council member, argued that the pregnancy centers are unregulated and are often staffed by volunteers and employees who lack medical training or licensure.
A report by the feminist group Legal Voice, which was included in the Board of Health records for the regulation, alleged that the centers provide medically inaccurate information about abortion and some do not inform patients that they do not perform terminations or make referrals involving the procedure.
The group's report was based on visits by trained volunteer college and law students to the pregnancy centers.
Jessica Johnson of Seattle, however, testified that she was told about all her options when she visited Care Net of Puget Sound. She said that the pregnancy center provided her an ultrasound and parenting classes at no cost when she was pregnant more than a year ago. "Everyone knows where you can go if you want an abortion," she added.
Kathy Lambert, who was the only council member who dissented, offered a similar argument, saying an internet search will provide options for contraception and abortions.
Kim Triller, the executive director of Care Net, took offense at the assertion that pregnancy centers do not provide health care. She contended that her facilities are staffed by doctors nurses and other medical professionals with the addition of volunteer help.
Her facilities also offer free testing for sexually transmitted diseases apart from pregnancy testing, ultrasounds and counseling.
"[The new rule] would stigmatize us and create doubts in the minds of the people in King County. We are literally healthcare facilities," Triller said.
She believes that the regulation is an attempt to put Care Net and other faith-based health care facilities out of business because they do not perform abortions.
According to Seattle Times, failure to post the notice could lead to fines of $100 per day. The sign should be at least 11 by 17 inches, and the warning must be written in 48-point font size.