The Women's Health Center of West Virginia, a full service health clinic and abortion provider just got a new neighbor, the Women's Choice Pregnancy Resource Center. Women's Choice isn't a health clinic and it doesn't provide medical services. Instead, it offers counseling to try to persuade women not to have an abortion and provides free pregnancy tests, some diapers and some baby clothes. But, would you know the difference just from the names? Imagine how easy it would be for a woman looking for Women's Health Center to walk into Women's Choice instead, thinking, perhaps, that it is an affiliated clinic offering pregnancy and abortion care. It is called Women's Choice, after all, suggesting that it supports choice rather than an ideological anti-abortion agenda. In fact, it used to be called Lifeline of Charleston but changed its name in 2002. Referring to the name change, Sharon Lewis, the executive director of Women's Health Center, noted, "[M]y only conclusion is that that's part of a deceptive practice to get women in there because they're confused, thinking that they're going to a reproductive-health center."
These tactics — locating near an abortion provider, using a misleading name — are all common ways in which Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) try to get women into their doors. Unfortunately, deceptive practices by CPCs are fairly common and they don't stop with advertising and location. Read more »
Traveling on subways in NY, I often saw ads asking if a woman was “alone, scared, pregnant” and suggesting she call a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) hotline for help. Spread throughout the city, these seemingly-innocuous English and Spanish ads often faded into the background—designed to capture your attention only if you, a friend, or family member needed help.
Since one in two pregnancies across the U.S. is unintended, women daily face a need for reproductive healthcare that might prompt them to call one of the 2,500 to 4000 CPCs located across the country. Unfortunately, instead of offering transparent, unbiased, comprehensive information that allows a woman to make her own informed choices, CPCs adamantly advocate against abortion regardless of the woman’s life and health circumstances, and needs.
"Crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs) around the country advertise free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and counseling—frequently appearing to be neutral medical providers. Women often mistakenly believe that CPCs will provide contraception, including emergency contraception and abortions or referrals to abortion providers. In reality, most are not clinics staffed by medical personnel that offer abortion and contraception. In fact, most CPCs refuse to provide accurate information about abortion or abortion providers. Instead, they offer false ‘facts’ about the safety, availability, and consequences of abortion and birth control. Women deserve better and that is why we are excited to announce the launch this week of Expose the Truth: A Toolkit on Using State Consumer Protection Laws to Document the Deceptive Practices of Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
All states have consumer protection laws that prohibit businesses from engaging in unfair and dishonest practices. The state Attorney General or consumer protection agency enforces the law by investigating complaints filed by people who think a business has broken these laws. Read more »
Last Thursday, the full Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in two cases concerning laws that would require Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC) to disclose factual information about the services they offer.
Earlier this year, a divided three judge panel struck down a law in Baltimore, Maryland that required CPCs to post disclaimers in waiting rooms stating that they do not provide or make referrals for abortion or birth control services and a law in Montgomery County, Maryland that required CPCs to disclose that they do not have licensed medical professionals on staff and that the county encourages women who may be pregnant to consult with licensed medical personnel. Judge Robert King dissented in both cases. Read more »