Find Anti-Abortion Center Lured Pregnant Women With False Ads
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ Operators of an anti-abortion center were fined Tuesday for violating Texas’ deceptive trade practices law by luring pregnant women to the clinic and trying to talk them out of having abortions.
The operators of the Pregnancy Problem Center were ordered to pay a $39,000 fine and $69,000 in legal fees after jurors found they used misleading statements and advertising.
″I think this sends a strong message to (anti-abortion) clinics across the country,″ said assistant Attorney General Steve Gardner. ″Don’t lie to pregnant women in the name of facts, in the name of help, in the name of God or anybody.″
The fines and fees were assessed against Chuck Pelletier, director of the center, and against Mother and Unborn Baby Care of North Texas Inc., the non- profit corporation set up to accept contributions for the clinic.
Pelletier said the center will appeal the decision.
Until 67th District Court Judge George Crowley enters a final order in the next few days, center operators will remain under a temporary injunction that forbids them from saying the clinic provides abortions or abortion referrals.
Eliot Shavin, the assistant attorney general who prosecuted the case, said he hopes the judge will be more explicit with the permanent injunction by requiring the center to disclose it does not do abortions, and that it is an anti-abortion operation.
Shavin said the disclosures should be included in advertisements and in telephone conversations with women setting up appointments.
If a woman called the Pregnancy Problem Center and asked if she could schedule an abortion, volunteers avoided answering directly, or in some cases they said yes, testimony showed.
Once inside the center, women are subjected to a graphic anti-abortion film and asked personal questions about their sex life, Pelletier said.