A group of anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) in New York filed motions in court last week attempting to avoid disclosing their records to the New York Attorney General’s office. In January, New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer issued 34 subpoenas to CPCs in the state after receiving complaints from residents regarding misrepresentation of services provided and improper medical care, among others. When issuing the subpoenas, Spitzer reminded the CPCs under investigation that they are legally bound to explain the services they do and do not provide and are prohibited from practicing medicine without a license, meaning that they cannot administer pregnancy tests or write prescriptions.
CPCs, listed in New York phonebooks under “abortion alternatives,” are usually funded by religious groups, including the Roman Catholic Church, and are unequivocally anti-abortion. Women and activists have long reported that CPCs, staffed by untrained volunteer counselors, offer inaccurate information and are usually a vehicle for proselytizing. The Washington Post reports that at the Expectant Mother Care CPC in New York City, a volunteer counselor “takes [women] into a tiny chapel to pray before a marble altar” during consultations. As CPCs receive government funds, many have raised concerns about the separation of church and state. Virginia, South Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania all provide government funding for CPCs. There are currently 3,000 CPCs in the U.S.