Crisis pregnancy centers in the U.S. revealed as non-medical clinics
Crisis Pregnancy Centers are non-medical, faith based clinics dispensing inaccurate information to pregnant women looking for help and false counseling related to their pregnancy.
Crisis Pregnancy Centers disguise themselves as abortion clinics, but they are not part of Planned Parenthood. They are part of the pro-life movement. Often, in an attempt to keep women from getting abortions, they employ scare tactics and give false medical information. These centers exist in Baltimore and young people in need of real pregnancy information should be aware of what they’re getting into by going to a CPC.
CPCs are not licensed medical providers. In order to appear professional, volunteers wear white lab coats and clients are required to fill out paperwork before they can see a counselor. They offer clients free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. What women don’t know is that the pregnancy tests are the generic ones available at drugstores.
If these centers do manage to become licensed to operate in a state, it allows them to appear more legitimate to clients. However, they are prohibited from practicing medicine. Instead they will have the woman administer and read her own test results.
These clinics say they offer unbiased counseling for unplanned pregnancies, but often make judgments about clients. They force women to sit through graphic presentations about abortion in order to scare them out of getting one.
CPCs are against contraception; in fact the only birth control they recommend is abstinence. According to the investigation of CPCs done by National Abortion Rights Action League and published this year, “one investigator in Maryland specifically requested a referral for birth control, a CPC volunteer stated she could not help because birth control is ‘next to aborting your baby.’ Nothing could be further from the truth—birth control is not, and never has been, an abortifacient.”
The centers also provide inaccurate information about abortions. Many of these “clinics” make outrageous claims that abortions lead to heavy bleeding, perforated uterus, sepsis, scarring, breast cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, depression, miscarriages, infertility and death.
They even make claims about a disorder called post-abortion syndrome which isn’t recognized by any medical journal. They paint abortion as a dangerous procedure when, in actuality, abortions during the first trimester have a 0.05% risk of any long-term complications.
One example of false claims was found in a CPC in Maryland where they had brochures alleging a link between cancer and abortion. According to the NARAL the brochure reads, “if you have a family history of breast cancer and have an early abortion at a young age, your chances of getting breast cancer before the age 45 are increased by 800 percent.”
When being counselled at a CPC, clients are told that there is no need to rush to get an abortion because they are legal at any point during pregnancy. This is false. According to NARAL’s investigation, “Roe vs. Wade protects the right of women to get an abortion only until viability, and 42 states prohibit some abortions after a certain point in pregnancy.” Delay tactics like this are designed to make it impossible for women to get abortions.
Some CPCs are backed by state governments. Nationwide, there are exactly 2460 CPCs according to statistics given by the NARAL. 43 of those CPCs are in Maryland. In contrast, Maryland only has 14 abortion clinics. Nationwide, the number of abortion clinics is 438.
Many women who go to CPCs don’t realize that they are not stepping into abortion clinics. If they were aware, they probably wouldn’t go. That’s why CPCs strategically locate themselves near Planned Parenthood or in medical buildings.
Baltimore has put laws in place that require CPCs to provide more disclosure about what they do. If they don’t refer clients to use birth control or abortion, they must post signs disclosing that. Many other states have adopted similar laws, but CPCs are actively lobbying against restrictions that these laws place on them.
UMBC students seeking any pregnancy related care should be aware of the nature of facilities they go to, and thankfully Baltimore specifically has limitations that might help shed some light for the community.
Macmillen, Hayley. “A Crisis Counselor Told This Woman Her IUD Was Her “Baby”” Refinery29. N.p., 16 Mar. 2015. Web. 20 Mar. 2015. http://www.refinery29.com/2015/03/83932/naral-crisis-pregnancy-center-report.
NARAL. CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS LIE: The Insidious Threat to Reproductive Freedom (n.d.): 1-24. Prochoiceamerica.org. NARAL Pro-Choice America, 2015. Web. 20 Mar. 2015. http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/assets/download-files/cpc-report-2015.pdf.
Tang, Joyce C. “A New Fight Over Abortion Access.” The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 1 Aug. 2010. Web. 20 Mar. 2015. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/08/01/crisis-pregnancy-centers-mislead-women-new-laws-fight-back.html?via=desktop&source=facebook.