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Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Expose the Truth!
Between May 2012 and September 2012, NARAL Pro-Choice Montana (NPCM) conducted an extensive investigation into the crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) operating across the state of Montana. These centers offer services to women facing an unintended pregnancy, but are fraught with problems—most notably biased and incorrect information provided to clients, failure to abide by applicable regulations to protect consumers, and their distinct connection to extreme right-wing political groups. NPCM research concluded that many of these facilities present themselves as legitimate medical clinics providing a broad range of comprehensive and caring services when, in fact, they use deceptive and misleading tactics to promote an anti-choice agenda.
Through the investigations NPCM found that:
- 89 percent of CPCs in Montana present inaccurate information about birth control and other contraceptives. Examples of this include saying birth control is the same thing as abortion, condoms are not effective at preventing pregnancy or STIs, and that birth control leads to breast and cervical cancer.
- 78 percent of CPCs claimed that abortion causes serious psychological damage. This is often referred to as "post-abortion syndrome”. The reality, however, is that numerous studies have found that serious psychological reactions are uncommon and, furthermore, that no such syndrome is medically or scientifically recognized.
- 67 percent of CPCs linked abortion to breast cancer and 44 percent claimed that abortion can cause irreversible damage to the vagina and uterus. These two statements have repeatedly been disproven by medical research teams.
Scare tactics and manipulative tools of these centers include showing women "fetal dolls” supposedly the size of the fetus, but they are developmentally incorrect and are used in an effort to humanize the embryo and dissuade women from choosing safe, legal abortion. 33 percent of the centers visited also showed graphic videos, often of late-term abortions to the "secret shoppers”. The volunteers expressed extreme discomfort and intimidation watching these videos, which we can only imagine would be worse for a woman truly in crisis and facing an unintended pregnancy.
Moreover, while CPCs provide services such as ultrasounds and pregnancy tests, they do not appear to be abiding by the applicable regulations that legitimate health care providers must adhere to. Although the centers advertise themselves as legitimate health centers, they do not abide by the same regulations that other health care providers must. Non-compliance with HIPAA—the regulations that govern the confidentiality of clients’ personal health information—is an obvious violation that is cause for consumer protection concerns.
CPCs are also part of the larger extreme anti-choice movement. The anti-choice movement created CPCs shortly after the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case of 1973, as part of a political strategy to re-frame the debate over abortion. Since their inception, CPCs have always followed the same business model: presenting themselves as comprehensive health centers but substituting legitimate pregnancy-related information with lies and intimidation.
While for years many CPCs existed independently, over the course of their history, they have become an increasingly tight network. Now, more and more CPCs are affiliated with one of three major umbrella organizations: the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), Care Net, and Heartbeat International.
The growing number of crisis pregnancy centers in Montana and across the country comes at the same time as a tidal wave of legislative attacks on reproductive rights. Anti-choice extremists have taken on new tactics and their goals are symbiotic: they aim to shut down legal abortion providers through unnecessary restrictions while also opening more CPCs that exist to shame women out of choosing legal abortion.
All Montanans have the right to access the full range of reproductive health care options, free of judgment and under the assumption that the medical information provided is accurate. NARAL Pro-Choice Montana is committed to exposing crisis pregnancy centers and ensuring that abortion remains safe, legal, and rare in our great state.