Humboldt County’s in-house attorney, Jeffrey Blanck, has agreed not to enforce a new state law affecting anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. In exchange, three such centers have agreed to drop his name from a lawsuit challenging the law.

The Reproductive FACT Act, which went into effect on Jan. 1 2016, requires licensed pregnancy centers to tell clients that the state can help them access affordable family planning, abortion care and prenatal care. Unlicensed pregnancy centers must tell clients that they’re not licensed medical providers. These notifications can be achieved by posting a sign.

The law is intended to counter fear-mongering and misinformation commonly spread at so-called crisis pregnancy centers. A 2006 Congressional investigation found that these centers systematically mislead women with discredited claims of abortion side effects including increased risk of breast cancer, depression, suicide and infertility. These centers now outnumber abortion clinics in the U.S. by roughly 3-to-1.

In response to the Reproductive FACT Act, three religiously affiliated pregnancy care centers, including Eureka’s Pregnancy Care Center, filed a suit that aims to have the law declared unconstitutional. They say the mandated notice of state services amounts to compelled pro-abortion speech that runs counter to their beliefs.

The lawsuit targets not only state officials such as Attorney General Kamala Harris and Public Health Director Karen Smith; it also names as defendants local officials in Humboldt, Monterey and Nevada counties, where the three clinics are located. The county counselors in each county were named along with the city attorneys in Eureka, Salinas and Grass Valley.

The plaintiffs in the case are using this litigation for local-level leverage, telling city and county officials that they’ll drop their names from the suit if they agree not to enforce it for the duration of the case. And it’s working. The city attorneys in Salinas and Grass Valley have accepted those terms, and yesterday Blanck told the Outpost that Humboldt County has also complied.

“We entered into a stipulation [saying] we aren’t going to enforce [the law] pending the outcome of their constitutional claims,” he said. While the law explicitly gives authority to the Attorney General, county counsels and city attorneys to impose civil penalties on clinics that don’t comply with the law, Blanck said he’d just as soon defer.

“Our enforcement [authority] was discretionary anyway,” he said. “It wasn’t mandatory. The Attorney General can be the main enforcement agent.”

As for the City of Eureka, City Attorney Cindy Day-Wilson has not responded to a series of phone calls and emails stretching back to March 17. On March 18 a legal assistant in the City Attorney’s Office confirmed that the emails were being received and forwarded to Day-Wilson. An email sent to City Manager Greg Sparks was not immediately returned.

Blanck said the county entered into a stipulation about 10 days ago which says the county will forgo enforcement of the law pending the outcome of the trial. Last month a group of activists delivered petitions signed by more than 25,000 state residents asking Blanck and Day-Wilson to “resist anti-choice bullying and aggressively enforce the Reproductive FACT Act.” But Blanck said such enforcement measures are “not the primary function of the county.”

Calling the new law “poorly worded” he said the enforcement authority it gives county counsels is not part of their job description. “That’s not what we do,” he said. “We give advice to county entities and the Board of Supervisors.”