Sen. Rodney Tom's bill (SB 6452) to encourage lawsuits against crisis pregnancy centers (CPC) is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee this morning at 10 a.m.
You are urged to contact your State Senator through the legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and ask them not to support this bill.
The bill that will be voted on has been amended from the original version. However, the amended bill is, miraculously, even worse than the original.
Originally, the bill allowed someone to file a claim under the Consumer Protection Act if a CPC center did something scandalous like ask you to watch a video about the risks of sexual activity before providing the results of a pregnancy test. While problematic, the Consumer Protection Act actually requires someone to have a legitimate complaint before making a claim.
The amended bill allows an "aggrieved party" to bring a private cause of action against crisis pregnancy centers without limiting who can be be an "aggrieved party". In fact, the amended bill allows someone to make a claim against a CPC and be awarded damages without even proving any damages. Anyone who feels "aggrieved" can sue regardless of whether or not they have been injured.
Of course, this very low standard would apply only to clinics that do not provide abortion.
As a result, if this bill passes, Washington State law will require you to prove damages if you sue an abortion clinic but not if you sue a CPC.
Remember, if someone harms you or violates your rights, you can sue them right now. It doesn't matter if it is a CPC, a grocery store, or your mother-in-law. You don't need permission from the legislature to sue people.
This bill simply eliminates the need to have an actual reason to sue a CPC.
But it gets worse. Really folks, you can't make this stuff up. In the event of a lawsuit, the bill awards attorney's fees to the person who sues the crisis pregnancy center if they prevail. However, it denies attorney's fees to the CPC if they prevail. This eliminates the primary incentive against bringing frivolous lawsuits. Once again, this protection only applies if you sue a CPC. Why not just make pro-lifers use separate water fountains?
In a small victory, the bill no longer contains the Orwellian and unconstitutional requirement that all information be "medically and scientifically accurate." However, it would still require clinics that don't provide abortions to disclose that "the center does not provide medical care for pregnant women". In many cases this statement would be blatantly false because the doctors in the clinics in fact do provide medical services. Imagine requiring McDonalds tell every customer who walks in the door that they don't sell hamburgers.
In reality, this bill is nothing more than a request from the Washington State Legislature for people to sue CPC's. It allows literally anyone to be an "aggrieved party" and eliminates the need to prove injuries. It also guarantees that you will never be required to pay attorney's fees for bringing a frivolous claim.
The proponents of this bill continue to claim that this is about making sure women are aware of all their choices. But does anyone think there are throngs of women in Washington State unaware that abortion is an option if they become pregnant? Isn't the implication that there is just a little bit insulting?
They also claim CPCs are misleading women about the services they provide. Yet, of the 60,000 women were served by CPCs last year (free of charge), none have testified that they were misled about the services they would be provided.
People already have a private cause of action if they are harmed by CPC's. Women know what abortions are and are smart enough to decide for themselves who they want to discuss their situation with. This bill serves no legitimate purpose.
Please contact your legislator today. If it passes through the committee this morning the bill will move to the flloor for consideration by the entire Senate.
Your legislators can be reached through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000. Sen. Rodney Tom can be reached at (360) 786-7694. Please be respectful, but please be heard.