Regulating Fake Clinics in New York City
In 2010, the NIRH Action Fund released “A Report on the Lies, Manipulations, and Privacy Violations of Crisis Pregnancy Centers in New York City,” which was based on an undercover investigation conducted with several volunteers. NIRH first investigated fake clinics, and released a report on the deceptive practices of fake clinics, in order to build the record of harm. We then worked with the New York City Council to pass an ordinance requiring fake clinics to post signs and otherwise disclose information about the services they provide, including whether a licensed medical provider is on staff at the center and whether center staff will refer women for contraception and abortion services. The law also contained a provision requiring fake clinics to treat all health and personal information they receive as confidential.
Several local fake clinics sued, arguing that the disclosure requirements violated their First Amendment rights. After an appeal, the Second Circuit upheld the requirement that fake clinics disclose whether or not they have a medical provider on staff, although the court struck down the requirement that they disclose whether or not staff would refer for contraception or abortion services. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, allowing the Second Circuit Court ruling to stand and enabling New York City to begin enforcing this part of the law.
NIRH then continued its advocacy, urging the City to promulgate regulations and begin to enforce the new law. In 2016, the City went through a rule-making process to promulgate the regulations and in 2017, the City enforced the law against the first set of CPCs to violate the ordinance.