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Attorney General William Tong


Attorney General Tong Joins Open Letter Supporting Yelp’s Efforts to Provide Consumers Accurate Information about Crisis Pregnancy Centers

(Hartford, CT) -- Attorney General William Tong today joined a coalition of 16 attorneys general in an open letter supporting Yelp’s efforts to ensure that consumers are provided with clear and accurate information about the limitations of services and staffing offered by Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). Yelp has provided notices on CPCs’ Yelp pages notifying consumers that CPCs do not provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare. In the letter, the coalition supports Yelp’s efforts to provide accurate information to consumers who utilize the platform to find reproductive healthcare providers.

“Yelp’s notifications provide accurate information about what services are and are not available through crisis pregnancy centers. This is a powerful step towards combatting confusion and misinformation, and will help ensure that women receive the care and services they are looking for,” said Attorney General Tong.

Connecticut law bars CPCs from using false, misleading or deceptive language about the services provided, or using language offering services that the center has no intention of providing. Under the law, such false and misleading advertising would be subject to enforcement action by the Office of the Attorney General.

In the letter, the attorneys general support Yelp’s efforts to help educate consumers and ensure that patients are informed of what services are and are not available through CPCs, which ultimately protects the public health. Over the past decade, CPCs have proliferated in the coalition states, outnumbering abortion clinics by a three-to-one ratio. In the letter, the coalition points out that Yelp’s efforts to provide accurate notices about CPCs on its platform helps combat misinformation, benefits consumers, and is backed by evidence that shows:

· CPCs do not provide full-scope reproductive healthcare, including abortion services or referrals, and some don’t provide healthcare services at all. A recent study looking at 607 CPCs in nine states found that the majority did not offer medical services beyond urine pregnancy tests. Only 28.1% of the CPCs offered sexually transmitted infection testing services, and only 16.6% offered any sort of sexual education. Only a small minority of CPCs have affiliated licensed medical personnel. In a recent survey, only 16% of CPCs responded that they had an affiliated physician and just over 25% indicated they have an affiliated registered nurse. Furthermore, CPCs frequently disclaim any obligation to keep patients’ medical information private.

· CPCs frequently use deceptive and unethical methods to lure pregnant people who are seeking comprehensive reproductive healthcare—including abortion—into their centers. CPCs often target vulnerable populations and communities facing barriers to reproductive healthcare access such as young people, people of color, and those for whom English is not their primary language. Additionally, CPCs have been known to provide those who visit with inaccurate and deceptive information about reproductive health. Reproductive Freedom For All, formerly known as NARAL Pro-Choice America, conducted a study of CPCs that found: CPCs employ online marketing strategies to ensure they appear in online searches for “abortion clinic”; provide misleading information about contraception and misinformation connecting abortions to infertility, breast cancer, and mental illness; and purposely locate their centers near comprehensive health clinics or in medical buildings that give the impression that medically accurate services are available.

· CPCs delay pregnant people from accessing critical, sometimes life-saving reproductive healthcare by dissuading pregnant people from seeking abortion care. For example, according to a recent lawsuit, a Massachusetts woman suffered from a ruptured fallopian tube and required emergency surgery after staff at a CPC missed that her pregnancy was ectopic. She visited the CPC for an ultrasound after searching online for a nearby place to confirm her pregnancy, and was told by the CPC that she had a viable, intrauterine pregnancy. Similarly, according to the study of 607 CPCs, a patient in New Mexico reported that, after being counseled not to get an abortion, a CPC refused to provide an ultrasound for at least two weeks, which was highly risky given the patient’s history of ectopic pregnancy.

The open letter was issued by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, the District of Columbia, and Washington.

A copy of the letter is available here.
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