Officials propose ordinance requiring transparency from anti-abo - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Officials propose ordinance requiring transparency from anti-abortion center

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An anti-abortion center in Hartford is coming under fire (WFSB) An anti-abortion center in Hartford is coming under fire (WFSB)

An anti-abortion center in Hartford is coming under fire after allegations it's deceiving women who are looking for medical treatment.

On Monday evening, dozens attended a meeting at city hall as leaders considered requiring the organization to be more transparent.

In Hartford, the pro-life and pro-choice organizations are neighbors.

Hartford GYN is a clinic that provides abortions for women. Next door, there’s the Hartford Women's Center, an operation run by St. Gerard's Center for Life. They're anti-abortion.

In the window, there’s a sign that advertises "options" for pregnant women. Opponents say it's misleading women who are looking for medical treatment. 

President of the Hartford City Council TJ Clarke was tasked with sorting out allegations that there's staff inside the anti-abortion center working without licenses while using deceptive practices to get women inside.

He says he's received complaints.

“Deceptive measures have been taken by the health clinic to lure women into their clinic to think they're going in for one appointment or type of visit and it's actually something else,” Clarke said.

On Monday evening, an ordinance requiring transparency from the anti-abortion clinic was proposed.

"This ordinance is really simple. It says if you don't have medical personnel on staff you need to disclose that and you can't deceive or mislead those seeking counseling or comprehensive care," said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin.

Hartford GYN, which has been in the capital city for 36 years, says they've witnessed their patients be "accosted and harassed" by employees of the Hartford Women's Center.

They say "crisis pregnancy centers are in the business of shaming, stigmatizing, and intentionally deceiving women in a devious attempt to limit their options. I applaud the city council for stepping up protecting women and their access to quality care.”

"There are volunteers of the crisis pregnancy center that will stand outside on the sidewalk along the pathway, in between our door and theirs, and tell patients that their appointments are with them when in fact, they've scheduled an appointment at our clinic," said Erica Crowley, of Hartford GYN Center.

Hartford Women’s Center said there have been no instances of confusion that they're aware of, but have made unsolicited offers to women going to Hartford GYN.

"Most women know it's there. I have not met a single woman who didn't know where that place was," said Leticia Velasquez, executive director of Hartford Women's Center.

The anti-abortion clinic says medically, they only offer ultrasounds and pregnancy tests, administered by two licensed nurses and one doctor. They say they offer everything but abortions, and that ranges from from housing and healthcare to employment and child care.

"Everything that a woman needs to free her up to have the baby," Velasquez said.

As for the medical licenses, they say they have two nurses and one doctor, all licensed and they provide limited medical ultrasounds. 

In the meantime, an ordinance has been referred to the Health and Human Services Committee, so they'll be looking at this as well.

Council chambers at city hall were at capacity as hundreds from around the state wanted to weigh in on the proposed ordinance.

An overflow room had to be opened for non-city residents and even then, it was standing room only.

Mayor Bronin went on the record, endorsing the proposal.

“We're talking about disclosure and saying you can't mislead people. I don't know what there is to be opposed to about that,” Bronin said.

No decision was made on Monday as the public hearing went on for hours.

The anti-abortion clinic says they don't intend to change their practices and will fight it in court. 

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