Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) are facilities that purport to offer women comprehensive and unbiased reproductive health care information and services, but their mission is to say whatever it takes to prevent women from obtaining abortions.
“CPCs are generally staffed by volunteers committed to [their interpretation of] Christian beliefs but who lack medical training,” explains an article in the Cardozo Law Review. Nevertheless, CPC staff and volunteers, sometimes dressed like doctors and nurses, counsel and serve women as if they were medical professionals.
There are about 2,500 Crisis Pregnancy Centers across the United States, and in some parts of the country, CPCs outnumber legitimate abortion clinics by far. For example, while 95 percent of Minnesota counties do not have an abortion provider, there are over 90 CPCs in the state; crisis pregnancy centers outnumber abortion providers by almost 15 to 1. In North Carolina, CPCs outnumber abortion providers by 4 to 1. Many CPCs are intentionally located near actual abortion providers, display misleading signage, and use false advertising to deceive women about their mission.
According to a report by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform Minority Staff, “the vast majority” of CPCs investigated “provided information about the risks of abortion that was false or misleading. In many cases, this information was grossly inaccurate or distorted.” Other reports reach similar conclusions.
Five lies are particularly common:
There are three good ways that legislation can address fraudulent activities by Crisis Pregnancy Centers:
The first is to require CPCs to disclose to patients when they are not licensed medical facilities and are not run by licensed medical professionals. In 2015, the state of California enacted what was called the “FACT Act,” which in part mandates that unlicensed CPCs put up signs and mention in advertising that they are, in reality, not licensed medical facilities. For a model bill, see the Pregnancy Center Disclosure Act.
The second is to prohibit CPCs from making false claims in advertising and signage about the services they provide. This approach was successfully adopted by the City of San Francisco in 2011. For a model bill, see the Crisis Pregnancy Center Fraud Prevention Act.
The third is to prohibit public money from flowing to any organization that knowingly lies about the five specific matters listed above. For a model bill, see the Truth in Medicine Act.
Women who seek health care or counseling during pregnancy require and deserve accurate information, not propaganda.