What is a Crisis Pregnancy Center?
Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), sometimes called Pregnancy Resource Centers, are an anti-abortion counseling centers with an agenda. Their goal is to pressure people to carry a pregnancy to term. Some have a medical license, but most do not, even if they might appear to from the outside.
CPCs were started in the late 60s and took off in the 80s and 90s after a federal law prohibited blocking abortion clinic entrances. Anti-abortion groups wanted a "friendlier" way to deter people from having an abortion. The Christian Action Council, later renamed CareNet now has more than 1,100 affiliated CPCs in its network.
From the beginning, CPCs were designed to be deceptive — to open near abortion providers, to use neutral sounding names, and to deflect on the telephone when asked if an abortion is provided.
Who funds them? We do. In many states, taxpayers fund CPCs. Fracking Billionaire Farris Wilks, anti-choice foundations, and church communities contribute millions to the cause as well. In 2015, $800,000 of Michigan taxpayer dollars were allocated to organizations that provide "abortion alternatives".
Isn't it medical malpractice to lie to patients? Most "clinics" are unlicensed, so they don't fall under medical board requirements. Licensed clinics still lie to patients and patients have the right to file a complaint with their state Medical Board.
Why are they legal? CPCs are considered "religious outreach," programs and are protected by the First Amendment. But thanks to dedicated activists, CPCs are starting to be held accountable for their deceptive practices. California now has state-wide CPC regulations, and New York City and San Francisco have passed ordinances requiring truth in advertising. However, these regulations are under risk when the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates sued Xavier Becerra, California's Attorney General in NIFLA v. Becerra, which claims that California’s law violates the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee.
What is their relationship with anti-abortion protesters? CPCs have strong ties to the anti-abortion extremist community, including clinic picketers. Protesters hand out CPC literature and encourage pregnant people to go to their local CPC.
How can you tell if it's a CPC or a real clinic? It's tricky! They are intentionally sneaky, and they often set up shop right next to real clinics. One good tip off: if ads or flyers emphasize how scary pregnancy can be, it's probably a CPC. If a website has "abortion information" but nothing about ACTUAL abortion services, it's probably a CPC. If you call to ask for an abortion, and they won't talk to you about abortion over the phone...it's probably a CPC.
What are some of their strategies?
- CPCs advertise to target pregnant people who may be seeking abortion care.
- CPCs work with protesters to intimidate people going into abortion provider offices.
- CPCs lie to patients, once they're inside.
- CPCs do not follow HIPAA regulations (because HIPAA only applies to actual medical providers).
- CPCs share patient data, and they try to intimidate legit providers.