Impeding the Right to Choose: Crisis Pregnancy Centers

From the Abortion Access Project:

With help from both state and federal governments, anti-choice activists have developed another obstacle for women seeking safe, professional abortions: Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) advertise themselves as women’s health clinics in order to attract pregnant women. They deliberately call themselves by misleading names like A Woman’s Concern or The Women’s Resource Center, and list themselves in the phonebook under headings such as ‘Abortion Services’ and ‘Birth-control Information Centers.’ Their propaganda and advertisements contain seemingly neutral statements like “Thinking about Abortion? Call us. Free Pregnancy Test.”

Despite their appearance, CPCs do not offer a full range of medical services, resources or information to their visitors. Instead CPC workers often do their best to discourage women from having abortions. Their actions can include withholding pregnancy test results, exaggerating the risks and side effects of abortions, forcing women to watch slide-shows or videos of abortions, and even coercing women into signing adoption agreements.

The first Crisis Pregnancy Center was launched in 1967 in Hawaii by anti-abortion activist Robert Pearson. Now there are approximately 3,200 CPCs nationwide. In Massachusetts alone, there are nearly 100 CPCs as compared to only 13 abortion clinics.

The growing number of CPCs in the US can be attributed largely to an increase in public funding. Since taking office, President Bush has increased federal funding for abstinence-only education to $270 million. Because CPCs espouse an abstinence-only position, they are eligible to receive this money. In 2003 alone, $3 million went to CPCs. Of this, over half a million dollars have gone to CPCs in Massachusetts.

Individual states have also begun to allocate funding for CPCs. While state family-planning budgets are getting cut dramatically, CPCs have received substantial fiscal support. For example, Missouri and Pennsylvania granted $700,000 and $5 million, respectively, to organization that provide “alternatives to abortion”, while Florida raised $1.3 million for CPCs with its “choose life” license plates.

These trends in public funding have allowed CPCs to exert growing influence over pregnant women and teens. For example, a single CPC in Massachusetts can affect the choices of over 2000 women per year. As a result, women seeking referrals and counseling for family-planning and abortions need to be aware of the possibility that anti-choice activists may pose as neutral, medically-trained counselors with the intent to discourage abortions.

Unfortunately, the assault on a woman’s right to choose posed by these fake clinics has gone largely unnoticed by a complacent public. Deceptive crisis pregnancy centers continue their campaign to misinform women about abortion and use any means necessary to prevent them from choosing to terminate their pregnancy. These centers are designed to intimidate women into carrying pregnancies to term rather than to provide accurate, comprehensive medical information with which pregnant women can make their own decisions. While there are centers which do not deceive women or attempt to coerce them to keep their child, many other centers continue to use deceptive practices in order to prevent women from accessing the full range of reproductive health options.

The NARAL Foundation would like to collect stories from women about their experiences or their friends’ experiences with these fake clinics. If you would like to share a story about an experience at a crisis pregnancy center, please send it to naral@naral.org or fax to 202-973-3030.

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2 Responses

  1. Bummer. Would that Planned Parenthood provide half of the truthful information to their “clients” as a CPC does.

  2. CPC’s do NOT provide much truthful information. They lie to most of the people that come into their so-called clinics and once they discover someone is pregnant most harass them until they are sure they have not had an abortion. Their only objection to to stop women from knowing the full range of their options at any cost. Planned Parenthood and true private family planning clinics are medically recognized clinics and must provide truthful information to stay in business and have all sorts of information available. They counsel their clients and discuss all options. CPC’s do not even have medically certified individuals working in their places. They are not real clinics.

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