What are crisis pregnancy centers and why are they so controversial?

Critical pregnancy centers provide limited, free pregnancy-related services to women, but they are not without controversy. (Photo: Getty Images)

There are approximately 3,000 Emergency Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) across the United States, offering limited, free pregnancy-related services to women. Critics, however, say that while these centers may look like clinics, they are nonprofit anti-abortion organizations, usually affiliated with evangelical religions, and the women who go there to seek abortions. is said to be “misleading”.

“Emergency pregnancy centers are mobile vehicles disguised as anti-abortion organizations, fake clinics or legitimate medical centers, often used to deliberately deceive pregnant people,” it said. said Sawyeh Esmaili, senior reproductive rights and health attorney at the National Women’s Association. Law Center told her Yahoo Life. “They are all aimed at dissuading, deceiving, intimidating, or coercing people not to seek or receive abortion care. I support it.”

But Heartbeat International’s vice president of communications and marketing, Andrea Trudden, supports one of the world’s largest networks of critical pregnancy centers. These facilities, also known as pregnancy resource centers or pregnancy care centers, “empower families and strengthen communities,” she told her Yahoo Life.

What services do emergency pregnancy centers offer?

Critical pregnancy centers offer a variety of services depending on the needs of the community, says Trudden. But in general, she says, they can include everything from parenting classes and items like free diapers and formula to STI tests and ultrasounds. “Some even offer housing for pregnant women and new mothers, all free for women,” she says. “The life-affirming care provided at these locations helps prepare and empower women as they enter a new phase of their lives with confidence.”

But Esmaili points out that while CPCs often offer free pregnancy tests, “usually it’s a pharmacy pregnancy test, not a doctor’s office or doctor’s office test.” She adds: This may not cost the person seeking care, but they are not really “free”.

She explains that these “free” services are often contingent on “getting ‘counseling’, signing a waiver, or hearing an anti-abortion presentation.” Some centers offer STD testing, but Esmaili said, “They often don’t offer testing for all STDs, and people can’t get proper treatment.” It may even appear that no follow-up has been done to ensure that the

However, some say that these centers certainly offer helpful services. In a 2020 study, Katrina Kimport, a research sociologist in her ANSIRH (Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health) program at the University of San Francisco and associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, found that 21 women and I talked. She visited critical pregnancy centers in southern Louisiana and Baltimore. Kimport said most of the women are “struggling financially,” she told Yahoo Life, adding that they can’t or can’t afford to get pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, baby and maternity products, and other options. I went to these centers for free services that may or may not exist. clothes and diapers.

“Most of the people I spoke to were deeply appreciative of these service and material promises and how they were handled,” says Kimport. “For the most part, they felt like they were treated with dignity and respect. For people with ongoing pregnancies, this was a very positive experience.”

However, Kimport disputes the fact that these women had to go through an “obstacle course” such as attending religious classes to receive these services. “It was so ‘tethered’ that it cost them their time, even if it was free,” she says.

Why Critics Say These Centers Are ‘Dangerous’

However, critics’ main problem with these facilities focuses on the misleading information provided regarding abortion. “Critical pregnancy centers masquerade as legitimate medical centers, but in reality they misinform patients by spreading lies about abortion, contraception, emergency contraception, and other reproductive health services. It’s a toxic propaganda factory designed to communicate and disguise,” said Julia Bennett, Senior Director of Digital Education. Speaking to Yahoo Life about the learning strategies of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Olivia Reisner, reporter and co-founder of Mayday Health, a nonprofit that provides information on access to abortion drugs in the United States, saw this first-hand when she went undercover at five emergency pregnancy centers in Indiana. I witnessed Posing as a pregnant woman contemplating an abortion, and armed with a urine sample from a pregnant friend and a hidden camera, Reisner learned from a woman at one center that some women who had had an abortion had scar tissue in the “fallopian tubes.” I was told that I was pregnant and that I could no longer conceive. natural pregnancy. “Infertility is a big post-abortion problem,” the woman can be heard saying in the video. ‘, and may even become ‘suicidal’.

However, research shows that abortion in the United States is safe. “It’s important to know that abortion will not affect future health in most cases,” says the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). “Abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer, depression, or infertility.”

The study found that “the idea that abortion harms women’s mental health is not supported by rigorous evidence,” and that abortion “can lead to depression, suicidal ideation, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, or stress.” It has been shown that there is no increased risk of experiencing “symptoms”. Term, or 5 years or more. In fact, research has shown that compared to having an abortion, “denial of a desired abortion may increase the risk of experiencing adverse psychological consequences in the short term.” shown.

A woman at the clinic also secretly tells Raisner that there is a pill that can reverse a medical abortion, which is false. ACOG says these claims are “unproven and unethical.”

“Everyone is allowed to have an opinion,” Raisner told Yahoo Life. “However, using that opinion to spread false medical information to pregnant women in vulnerable emotional states is manipulation. I am shocked at what these CPCs have done to take a medical position.”

Laisner, who calls these facilities “dangerous,” said misleading conversations like this “take place every day across the United States. CPCs are funded by taxpayers. is spreading rapidly, and the first step in putting an end to these bogus medical facilities is to uncover what’s going on inside.

Why is it sometimes mistaken for an abortion clinic?

Emergency pregnancy centers and their websites may resemble those of clinics that offer abortion services, which only adds to the confusion.

“Since CPCs are not licensed health care providers, they are not required to comply with laws like HIPAA, but one of the ways CPCs intentionally mislead patients is by making them look like regular clinics. is,” says Bennett. “They may have specialized websites, medical-sounding names, ultrasound machines, and staff in lab coats. can also do.”

According to Esmaili, the names of these facilities “are only slightly different from legitimate reproductive medicine clinics, and CPCs generally use search engine optimization techniques so that someone can find abortion care.” Your website appears in online search results when you’re trying to

She adds that these centers often use websites and advertisements to “pretend themselves to be institutions that provide comprehensive, unbiased care when that is far from the truth.” I’m here.

How do you know if it’s an emergency pregnancy center?

There are several ways to determine if a facility is actually an emergency pregnancy center rather than a clinic that provides abortion care. They often refer to themselves as “pregnancy resource centers,” “pregnancy help centers,” “women’s resource centers,” or even “abortion alternatives,” Esmaili said, offering free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. often provide “They have an anti-intentional abortion approach to unintended pregnancies,” Esmaili said, adding that “references to religion and prayer” are another hint.

“A big sign is that they don’t offer condoms or effective contraceptives like pills, patches, rings, shots, IUDs and implants,” says Bennett. “CPC sometimes claims he offers abortion counseling, free pregnancy tests, and even STIs. [sexually transmitted infection] Testing — but denying you an abortion or trying to stop you from having an abortion. It’s not reliable.”

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