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San Francisco takes on 'crisis pregnancy centers'

August 2, 2011 |  3:08 pm

San Francisco officials are scrutinizing what they say is deceptive marketing by “crisis pregnancy centers” that purport to offer a full range of healthcare alternatives to women but actually proselytize against abortion.

Supervisor Malia Cohen was to introduce a proposal at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting to prohibit “limited-services pregnancy centers” from making false or misleading statements in their advertising.

And the city attorney’s office notified a local pregnancy center called First Resort that it must declare in its advertising that it does not provide abortion services.

The center advertises “Pregnancy Counseling Women’s Health Clinics,” but its real purpose is to “build an abortion-free world,” according to its articles of incorporation released by City Atty. Dennis Herrera.

A Google search of “abortion San Francisco” Tuesday afternoon brought up a list of “places for abortion near San Francisco.” The first selection on the list is First Resort. But “nowhere on its website, print advertisements, or in the paid Google advertisement, does First Resort state that it does not perform or refer clients for abortion services,” Herrera said in a letter to First Resort Chief Executive Shari Plunkett.

“First Resort is certainly entitled to advocate for ‘an abortion-free world’ to anyone who wants to hear it,” Herrera said, “but the center is breaking the law by misrepresenting itself as an abortion provider for the purpose of luring women with unwanted pregnancies into its office.”

Plunkett said in a written statement that she was “confident that our clinic is a model and complies with local, state and federal laws.

“First Resort rejects in the strongest possible terms any representation that our advertising misled women,” she continued. “We treat women with dignity and respect and respect their right to choose."

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-- Maria L. LaGanga in San Francisco

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