May 3, 2022
Part 1: Crisis Pregnancy Centers 101 - How Your Tax Dollars Fund Fake Women's Health Centers
Crisis pregnancy centers, or “CPCs,” are anti-abortion organizations that target pregnant people with predatory, deceptive marketing. They hide in plain sight by operating under the guise of offering comprehensive reproductive healthcare. Instead, they are religiously-affiliated, anti-abortion, and often unlicensed “medical” centers that, as stated by the California legislature, dissuade pregnant people from abortion through “intentionally deceptive advertising and counseling practices that often confuse, misinform and even intimidate” mostly low-income clients from making informed choices.
Eighty-three percent are affiliated with evangelical Christianity, and nearly all are tax-exempt. Their deceptive practices are well documented, and range from including words like “choices” in their names and locating themselves next to abortion clinics to trick pregnant people into walking through their doors, to wearing medical scrubs and having untrained personnel give and interpret ultrasounds even when they are not licensed medical facilities (and operate outside of privacy laws like HIPPA), with potentially dangerous consequences. It is also well-known that in addition to providing dubious and sometimes dangerous "medical" advice that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has publicly declared is unsupported by science, they lie to patients about how far along their pregnancies are in an effort to prevent clients from seeking abortions. The American Medical Association has declared that they "violate principles of medical ethics." Oh, and your tax dollars fund them!
In Part 1 of a 2-part Femtastic series on Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), we are joined by Megan Peterson and Erin Maye Quade of Gender Justice, a legal and policy advocacy org working to advance gender equity through the law. Gender Justice recently contributed to a national report on CPCs titled "Designed to Deceive: A Study of the Crisis Pregnancy Center in 9 states." The report shows that, rather than offer legitimate healthcare and resources, CPCs target pregnant people of color and pregnant people with lower incomes with deceptive marketing; provide few or no real medical services; and systematically mislead clients about services they do provide, potentially resulting in delayed care and unnecessary risks to their clients' health.
Megan and Erin will talk about the intentionally misleading practices CPCs use to market themselves as real health clinics, and the deceptive "care" they provide in order to dissuade or stop clients from having abortions. We also talk about how your tax dollars fund them and what you can do to stop this.
Look out for Part 2 of this series, where we discuss how CPCs use client data to violate their privacy in very creepy and dangerous ways - and the role that CPCs are poised to play in a post-Roe United States as a surveillance tool for the anti-abortion movement.
No time to listen to this episode? Check out Katie's op-ed on this topic or read the transcript of the episode.
- Transcript (AI-generated!)
- Op-ed written by Katie about Crisis Pregnancy Centers (includes more info on their funding): How Your Tax Dollars Fund Fake Women's Health Centers
- Must-watch video: Crisis Pregnancy Centers: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
- Mentioned in the episode: In Virginia, University of Mary Washington fellows conducted an undercover investigation into the local fake clinic that targets students on campus, exposing their disinformation and shaming tactics to help protect and educate vulnerable students.
- Designed to Deceive: A Study of the Crisis Pregnancy Center in 9 states
- Further info on the dubious practice of "abortion pill reversal" and how the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says it is "not supported by science" - In the interview, we talk about an investigation in California that revealed some of the lies CPCs tell clients in their care (including when a CPC told a person that her IUD was her "baby"): Unmasking Fake Clinics: An Investigation into California's Crisis Pregnancy Centers (NARAL Pro-Choice California Foundation, 2015)
- Check out this map of Crisis Pregnancy Centers in the U.S.
- Check out the National Network of Abortion Funds; they can tell you whether a clinic is a real clinic. You should also donate to them, as abortion funds will be tasked with providing even more critical access to abortion care as states pass more restrictive anti-abortion laws (or ban abortion altogether should Roe fall this year).
- Abortion Care Network: Independent abortion providers care for the majority of people seeking abortion care in the United States. Founded in 2008, Abortion Care Network (ACN) is the national association for independent community-based, abortion care providers and their allies. They work to ensure the rights of all people to experience respectful, dignified abortion care. Donate to them.
- And as a teaser to Part 2 of this series on CPCs: In February 2022, Gender Justice along with their The Alliance: State Advocates for Women’s Rights & Gender Equality partners released an urgent warning about the role the crisis pregnancy center (CPC) industry is poised to play in a post-Roe United States – as a surveillance tool for the anti-abortion movement: The CPC Industry as a Surveillance Tool of the Post-Roe State
- Why Crisis Pregnancy Centers Are Legal but Unethical (American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, 2018)
- Crisis Pregnancy Centers Lie: The Insidious Threat to Reproductive Freedom (Report by NARAL Pro-Choice America, 2015)
- More on NIFLA v. Becerra: Supreme Court Sides With California Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Centers (NPR, June 2018)
- Supreme Court Backs Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Centers in Free Speech Case (New York Times, June 2018)
- Thirty-One Attorneys General Challenge New Title X Restrictions on Women’s Reproductive Health Care (Press Release from office of Maryland's Attorney General Brian Frosh, 2019)