An investigative study conducted by NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia has found that Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) in Virginia purposefully use inaccurate medical information and emotional manipulation to dissuade women from receiving abortion care (see study). The study, which was conducted undercover over the course of a year, details the methods used by Virginia’s 58 CPCs to block women from receiving proper medical services, including a two-part sub-report that specifically outlines the medically-inaccurate information given to the pregnant women who receive “treatment” at any of the CPCs.
The study enlisted and trained volunteers who conducted the research both over the phone and with in-person visits. Volunteers learned of common strategies used by CPCs to attract pregnant women, including the use of mainstream review services [PDF] and websites that allowed the CPCs to masquerade as abortion providers. The CPCs avoided any mention of what services are or are not provided in the way of reproductive care on these mediums, and did the same when phoned. CPCs also purposefully establish themselves near university campuses and in urban centers [PDF]. Once a woman enters a center, the CPC volunteers take care to “outlin[e] conception in non-medical and emotional terms,” mislead women about the length of their pregnancies, and place strong emphasis on disproven facts about abortion, such as breast cancer and loss of fertility [PDF].
In addition, the report discusses how recent anti-choice legislation requiring any woman seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound 24 hours [PDF] before the procedure drives women to seek out care at CPCs which often advertise free ultrasounds and pregnancy tests. In a press release, Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said “No matter how a person feels about abortion, everyone can agree that women should never be misled when seeking information about pregnancy, birth control, abortion, or sexually transmitted infections. Yet not only is this happening in CPCs across the Commonwealth, but the Virginia Department of Health is actually endorsing this dangerous practice. These centers are a threat to women’s health and they must be treated as such “not legitimized by the highest medical institution in the Commonwealth.” NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia offers policy recommendations [PDF] in the study, such as requiring CPCs to obtain pre-certification by the Virginia Department of Health in order to confirm that only medically-accurate information is being given to patients.
For more information on actions you can take to expose CPCS, visit Feminist Campus’ Campaign to Expose Fake Clinics.