Pregnancy Center Bill Withdrawn From Senate Consideration

On February 10, 2020, the New York State Senate Women’s Issues Committee was scheduled to meet in Albany. The committee calendar indicated that the pregnancy center disclosure bill, Bill S.2264-Hoylman/A.2352-Glick, would be considered that day.

As Albany Update has previously reported, the pregnancy center disclosure bill would compel pro-life pregnancy centers, “upon first communication or first contact” with prospective clients, to disclose that they do not provide abortion or birth control. Also, the bill would allow anyone who believes that a pregnancy center has failed to communicate the mandated disclosure to complain to the state; that complaint would trigger an investigation and could result in fines. The ardently pro-abortion sponsors of the bill claim that its purpose is to prevent pro-life pregnancy centers from deceiving women with false advertising. New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms believes that the bill’s true purpose is to distract pro-life pregnancy centers from their mission by forcing them to engage in compelled speech and potentially forcing them to respond to intrusive and burdensome state investigations.

The pregnancy center disclosure bill was previously considered by the Women’s Issues Committee on April 29, 2019. At that time, the bill was approved on a party-line vote of five to two. (Democratic Sens. James Gaughran, Anna Kaplan, Shelley Mayer, Jen Metzger, and Julia Salazar voted “aye,” while Republican Sens. Betty Little and Patty Ritchie voted “nay.”) This year was a different story, however. At the beginning of the meeting, Chairwoman Julia Salazar announced that Sen. Brad Hoylman, the bill’s Senate sponsor, had “held” the bill; this means that Sen. Hoylman had withdrawn the bill from committee consideration. While Chairwoman Salazar did not explain the reason behind the withdrawal, a move like this is typically made if the sponsor believes that the bill needs more work or that it will not receive enough votes to move forward. We can say that the number of emails that senators received regarding this issue was raised in the committee meeting. NYCF appreciates those who utilized our Legislative Action Center to respond so rapidly with their strong opposition. Regardless of the reason, the bill’s withdrawal means that it is stalled in the Senate—for now. Of course, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms will be watching carefully to see if it is considered at a later date.

While the pregnancy center disclosure bill was not considered at the meeting, Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) took the opportunity to express her opposition to it. Sen. Little said:

“I spent some time talking to the pregnancy crisis center in Glens Falls… [Most women] who come to them have already made their decision. They want to have their baby. Most of them are financially not well off. They help them [until] the baby is three years old and continue to provide clothes, diapers, anything they need. They stay in contact with the person until they get on their feet… We’ve gotten a lot of emails on this…”

“I did bring a little ad for our pregnancy center, and it’s ‘Women Helping Women in Warren and Washington Counties.’ It’s the only one [in my district]. I have six counties, and my district is larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island. So there aren’t a lot of these, but they are very, very helpful for those who choose…to try to have [a] baby and are looking for support and help. ‘Unexpected pregnancy, or in need of material goods for infants and small children? Our loving peer counselors are non-judgmental and can help with life wisdom, so you may sit and chat at any time. No appointment necessary. Donations and volunteers needed.’ It’s a volunteer organization, totally.”

“So I don’t understand the need to go after this kind of group that is really helping [those] who need the most help. And many of them [are] in a situation where they didn’t have a good parent, and they don’t have the means, [but] they want to have this child. And they actually go out of their way to help them achieve that, and they continue to support them. And I’m sure that there may be a bad one around someplace that [Senator Hoylman] found that he doesn’t like. But we shouldn’t—when they first come through the door, we shouldn’t be greeting them with a list of regulations and what you can do and what you can’t do. They establish a relationship with them, basically. So I’m very glad the bill is being held, and I would have been a ‘no, no, no’ vote… I hope it gets held for many years to come.”

Sen. Little, thank you for speaking out in defense of New York’s pro-life pregnancy centers.