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Seacoast Online: Senator Hassan: Women deserve medical facts, not falsehoods

When a woman facing an unintended pregnancy seeks medical advice, she deserves accurate and honest medical facts so she can determine her own future. What she does not need, however, is false or inaccurate information when making a deeply personal health care decision.

In New Hampshire - and at more than 2,700 locations across our nation - women are walking into fake women’s health centers, misleadingly called “crisis pregnancy centers,” believing that they are receiving medically sound, neutral advice about pregnancy. But these centers really exist to serve one purpose: preventing a woman from accessing abortion.

These fake health centers are often located near real medical health centers. They use deceptive websites and advertising to bring women in, and once they get there, women can be subjected to lies about medical facts and undergo medically unnecessary tests, often administered by unlicensed individuals.

This week, the Supreme Court will hear a case that will impact a woman’s right to learn accurate information about her health care options. The case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, revolves around a California state law known as the FACT (Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care and Transparency) Act.

The FACT Act helps ensure that any organization claiming to give medical advice to pregnant women is honest and straightforward about the care that women can receive. It requires that facilities notify women if a licensed medical professional is involved with the office or not, and it ensures that women understand the options available to them with regard to family planning services and care. The FACT Act is simply about transparency and honesty. It would ensure that women who understandably believe they are at a doctor’s office, when they aren’t, have access to comprehensive information about their health care and the people who can actually help them. That is why I joined a number of my colleagues in filing a legal brief to the Supreme Court highlighting the importance of upholding this law.

Women who are in a vulnerable position and seeking health care deserve facts, not deception. Women deserve to have accurate information about their options presented to them. And like any person seeking health care, they should be able to trust the information they are getting, and receive timely care. It is essential that the Supreme Court affirms that right.

We are unfortunately at a time in our nation’s history when women’s access to health care is consistently up for debate.

Throughout the last year, the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress have repeatedly tried to roll back access to care and undermine the health of women. We’ve seen proposals defunding Planned Parenthood, targeting women’s access to abortion, increasing the costs of maternity care, and allowing insurers to treat giving birth as a pre-existing condition.

I will continue fighting against these attempts to marginalize women and to stand with countless Granite Staters and Americans who recognize the capacity of every woman in our nation to make her own health care decisions and control her own destiny.

We must support women in their choices, and ensure that they have the full independence to make them. And at the very least, we must prohibit organizations from purposely misleading women in ways that deprive them of their constitutionally-protected rights and that could harm their health.