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Inside a Crisis Pregnancy Center

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Imagine you’re pregnant. It was an accident, and you’re scared. You’re wondering, “Can I get a safe abortion? What happens during the procedure? How do I use contraception correctly so I’m less likely to get pregnant again? Do I have a sexually transmitted infection?”

Clinic Confusion

Ideally, you’ll find a licensed health care center offering confidential counseling, contraception, and abortion services—one like Robbinsdale Clinic in Minnesota, which provides these services and supports women’s right to make informed choices regarding their reproductive lives. But wait. Across the street is Robbinsdale Women’s Center, which helps women gather the facts they need to make an informed choice about pregnancy. Same organization? No. But the Robbinsdale Women’s Center (RWC) would like you to believe so because it is actually a fake clinic that spews out anti-choice propaganda.

According to a Robbinsdale Clinic staffer, who requested that her name be withheld, patients have arrived, gotten confused, and mistakenly entered RWC. They get checked in and left in a waiting room until they’ve missed their real appointment at Robbinsdale Clinic. RWC then tries to frighten the women away from the abortions that they planned to have. One RWC “scare tactic” is claiming—falsely—that abortion causes infertility. They have even told women that they’re earlier in their pregnancies than they really are.

Deceptive …

RWC is one of an estimated 2,300–3,500 Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) across the country. Their purpose—to dissuade women from having abortions. Some openly acknowledge this goal. Many don’t. They masquerade as comprehensive health care centers. You’ll find them listed under abortion, abortion alternatives/services, clinics, family-planning centers” and women’s organizations.

Their names—like A Woman’s Concern, Care Net—are reassuring, and many CPCs offer free pregnancy tests. Like RWC, they may be located near reputable health care centers or within pro-choice neighborhoods. Amy took a test at what she assumed was a legitimate health center in her liberal New York City neighborhood, only to be informed after her test that the staff didn’t agree with abortion.

… and Dangerous

Many CPCs are volunteer-staffed and exempt from state regulations. And despite neutral advertising like, “Thinking about abortion? Call Us.”, clients are harassed, intimidated, and shown photographs of dismembered fetuses. Adoption is presented as, “always the more courageous, noble, and ethical decision.”

Fact or Fiction?

In 2006, Representative Henry Waxman reported on his survey of CPCs across the country. He revealed that 87 percent of these federally funded CPCs gave women the following false and misleading information.

“Abortion causes significantly higher rates of breast cancer.”

Fact: The National Cancer Institute definitively states, “Abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.”

“Abortion causes sterility.”

Fact: Worldwide studies have shown that abortion does not increase a woman’s risk of future infertility, infant mortality, or miscarriage.

Women suffer a long-term, “negative psychological aftermath” called post-abortion syndrome, in which they endure depression, suicide attempts, eating disorders, hatred of men, promiscuity, substance abuse, and/or “coldness in place of … normal warmth and maternal tenderness.”

Fact: The American Psychological Association and other leading authorities agree that there is no such thing as post-abortion syndrome. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, women often feel a whole lot worse before they undergo abortions then after. The reality is that most women report feelings of relief after they terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

Sex (Mis) Education

Having reaped about $30 million in federal funding since 2001, CPCs are now bringing their anti-abortion, abstinence-until-marriage message to schools. Colorado mom, Peggy Loonan, visited CPC-sponsored sex education classes in which the teachers concealed their agencies’ anti-abortion missions, misquoted statistics, and falsely claimed that condoms don’t protect against HIV. (In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing transmission of HIV,” as well as reducing risk of other STIs and cervical cancer.) 

Do Your Homework

Don’t schedule an appointment with a provider unless you are sure it’s legitimate.

To find an accredited abortion provider, you can rely on the National Abortion Federation.

To make an appointment to consider your pregnancy options with the nearest Planned Parenthood health center, call 1-800-230-PLAN.

Speak out if you’re seduced into a fake clinic. “Unfortunately, “says Sarah Wheat, Director of Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region, tracking women’s experiences with CPCs, “is always a challenge.” Get the word out. If you have a bad experience at a CPC, report it to the National Abortion Federation or to your state Attorney General.

By Juliet Eastland

Related Story: Abstinence-Only Sex Education: Not in My Backyard


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