Faith-based pregnancy providers may have to post warning signs

By: Amy Clancy

Updated:

There are warning labels on cigarettes, slippery surfaces and construction sites.

Warning signs could also soon be posted outside private -- mostly faith-based -- pregnancy care providers in King County.

The King County Board of Health is expected to vote Thursday on Rule & Regulation BOH 17-04, “relating to disclosure of information of limited service pregnancy centers.” 

If passed, the resolution would make it mandatory for such pregnancy centers to post signs throughout their facilities, in 10 different languages warning potential clients that, “This facility is not a healthcare facility.”

“It would stigmatize us and create doubts in the minds of the people in King County,” Kim Triller said of the proposed requirements.

Triller is Executive Director of Care Net Pregnancy and Family Services of Puget Sound. Two of Care Net’s six area facilities – one in Federal Way, the other in Kenmore – are located in King County.

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In anticipation of Thursday’s vote, Triller’s staff members are already creating signage for “our doors, in our waiting rooms, on the advertising materials, on our website, all stating something that is actually not true,” she said on Wednesday. 

"We are literally healthcare facilities,” Triller said.

Not in the eyes of Rod Dembowski, Chair of the King County Board of Health and a King County Councilmember.

He said the resolution is meant “to make sure that pregnant women have complete, timely and accurate information. They’re at a vulnerable period in their lives, and the delay in getting complete and accurate information can really have an adverse health consequence for the mother and also the child.”

Triller bristles at the idea her facilities -- staffed by doctors, nurses, other health care professionals as well as volunteers -- do not offer complete, accurate and timely healthcare.

She believes the effort is an attempt to put Care-Net -- and other faith-based health-care providers -- out of business because they don’t perform abortions. 

“It’s in direct violation of our religious freedom, it’s compelled speech and it’s also viewpoint discrimination.”

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert agrees with Triller and plans to vote against Rule & Regulation BOH 17-04 when the Board of Health, of which she’s a member, convenes on Thursday. 

“This is supposedly about free choice, but it’s only free choice if you choose the way they want you to choose” Lambert said. 

She believes the signs would be an example of “using the government to bully people, and I just don’t think it’s right.”

Lambert expects to be the only dissenting vote on Thursday. Dembowski also expects the resolution will pass.

Follow this link for more information from the Board of Health.

Follow this link for more information about Care Net of Puget Sound.

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