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LA City Attorney's office issues warnings to three CPCs for violating Calif. FACT Act

The Los Angeles City Attorney's office this month issued notices to three antiabortion-rights crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) in the region, warning them about noncompliance with a new state law aimed at curbing CPCs' misinformation, Rewire reports.

According to Rewire, this is the first time any officials in California have enforced the law (Knight Shine, Rewire, 6/28).

Background on law

The Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act took effect Jan. 1. The law, which was introduced by Assembly members David Chiu (D) and Autumn Burke (D), expands protections in a 2011 San Francisco ordinance (212-11) that bars CPCs from disseminating misleading information.

The law requires licensed facilities that provide services related to pregnancy and family planning to let women know how and where they can access affordable and timely abortion, contraception and prenatal care services.

Further, the law requires unlicensed facilities that provide pregnancy- and family planning-related services to tell patients the facilities are not licensed and that they have no staff members who are licensed providers. Such facilities are required to disseminate a notice to patients at the facility and in any digital or print advertising materials stating, "This facility is not licensed as a medical facility by the State of California and has no licensed medical provider who provides or directly supervises the provision of services."

CPCs that do not comply with the law are subject to a $500 fine for the first offense and a $1,000 penalty for any offense thereafter. The state attorney general, county councils and city attorneys have the authority to enforce the law.

In May, following an investigation that found six of the eight CPCs in the Los Angeles area were violating the law, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said his office will start actively enforcing the law (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/16). According to Rewire, at least two CPCs in the Los Angeles area, including one contacted at the start of Feuer's enforcement campaign, are complying with the law (Rewire, 7/28).

CPCs have filed several legal challenges against the law, four of which were rejected. Last month, a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in one of the legal challenges. The lawsuit involves several CPCs, including the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/16).

Latest developments

Feuer's office issued the notices of violation on July 15 and July 18 to three CPCs: Harbor Pregnancy Help Center, Los Angles Pregnancy Services and Pregnancy Counseling Center. According to a spokesperson from Feuer's office, one of the CPCs is licensed and the remaining two are unlicensed.

In one of the notices, Feuer wrote, "Our investigation reveals that your facility failed to post the required onsite notice anywhere at your facility and that your facility failed to distribute the required notice either through a printed document or digitally."

According to Rewire, the CPCs have 30 days from when the notices were issued to come into compliance with the law or face the financial penalties for violation.

Amy Everitt, state director of NARAL Pro-Choice California, praised Feuer's decision. "I think this is the first instance of a city attorney or any other authority enforcing the FACT Act, and we really admire City Attorney Mike Feuer for taking the lead," she said (Knight Shine, Rewire, 6/28).