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LTE: Deceptive Trade Practice Pregnancy Related Service

When a person seeks a full range of services and is fooled, deceived, or outright lied to by what is stated in an advertisement, that is not a form of “free-speech” protected by the first Amendment.
Colorado State Capitol.

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Let's be clear about what the bill, Deceptive Trade Practice Pregnancy Related Service SB23-190 being debated at the State Capitol, does and doesn’t do. 

Since protections for access to safe abortion care have been stripped from many states after the Supreme Court Decision last June, we have seen a significant rise in crisis pregnancy centers using advertisements to give consumers the impression that they offer full reproductive care. They are luring folks in with deceptive ads and then not offering all options. It is an example of bait and switch.

Comprehensive reproductive care includes access to contraception, emergency contraception, testing and treatment for STIs, pregnancy testing, ultrasound, prenatal advice, abortion or referral for abortion, and a complete range of sound, science-based medical advice by licensed medical professionals.  

When a person seeks a full range of services and is fooled, deceived, or outright lied to by what is stated in an advertisement, that is not a form of “free-speech” protected by the first Amendment. Instead, it qualifies as deceptive trade practice. Restricting this form of “speech” is actually regulated by consumer protection law. 

The bill says that if one of these centers advertises that they offer, or implies that they offer, abortion care or emergency contraception and they know that they do not offer these services, then they have engaged in deceptive trade practice and the Attorney General can step in to stop this form of false advertising.

The second part of the bill addresses what is being called “abortion pill reversal.” Offering this so-called treatment has absolutely no basis in science, has not gone through safety studies and in fact has been called out by the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as unethical, unproven, and false. In other words,“abortion pill reversal” is not a real thing.

To be clear, it is known that when the second drug in the protocol for a medical abortion is not taken, over 50% of patients may remain pregnant. It is the second drug that increases the success rate of a medical abortion up to 98%. That means that if you don't take the second drug, there is a higher chance that you will remain pregnant, regardless of whether you’re given a high dose of progesterone or a placebo. Giving someone a high dose of injectable progesterone after only taking the first drug of the protocol does not, by any stretch of the imagination, prove that progesterone worked as an “abortion pill reversal.” The claim that a high dose of injectable progesterone reverses an abortion after taking the first drug of the protocol is completely false information.  

Giving pregnant people false information also poses potential danger. When this is done it means that those folks are not receiving the legitimate information they need after making the choice to not take the second pill in the protocol. People deserve honest, complete, standard of care medical information.

Science must prove cause and effect. That does not exist for this so-called “abortion pill reversal”. Science-based medical studies are critical to patient safety and are relied on by ethical providers. Saying the bill takes away a person’s choice makes no sense. We should not allow “fake” therapies to trick people into believing they are getting something they are not. This is a form of medical fraud and needs to be called out as unprofessional conduct. That is what this bill does.

The bill does not aim to shut down these pregnancy centers. All we’re asking is that they be transparent about what they provide and equally transparent about what they don’t provide. Faith based counseling is absolutely wonderful for people who are seeking that. Encouraging folks to continue their pregnancy without coercion is also completely fine.

The bill states that these centers must “say what they mean and mean what they say.” Don’t trick people. Be honest. Send people on their way if they end up in your place by mistake and are really searching for a full service, comprehensive reproductive care medical clinic. We all deserve the truth.