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An Introduction to the Mad, Mad World of Crisis Pregnancy Centers

[Ed. Note: This post is one of a series, presented by NARAL Pro-Choice Washington as part of NARAL Pro-Choice America’s CPC Week of Action. For the full list of posts on this topic, click here.]

Posted by Social Media and Project Intern Michelle Auster

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Above: Spoiler alert — this is an ad for an anti-choice CPC, although you wouldn’t know it from the vague wording. Go somewhere else for real help!

Play along with me. You suspect you may be pregnant, or someone you know and care about thinks they may be pregnant. Obviously, you seek professional advice. This pregnancy is unintended, and you’re not sure if it’s a good idea to see it to term. You’re worried, you only have so much time to figure out what your options are and make a decision. You see an advertisement for a free pregnancy screening at a local clinic, often called a Crisis Pregnancy Center. Well, you are in crisis, and you need a free pregnancy test. This must be an okay place to go for help, right?

STOP RIGHT THERE.

This is most likely a fake clinic, also known as a Limited-Service Pregnancy Center (LSPC) and often marketed to women as a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC).

These centers draw unsuspecting women and their partners in with the promise of a free pregnancy screening, then do everything they can to talk them out of choosing abortion, even if that may be the right decision for them.

The counselors employed in LSPCs are not medical professionals, and are often recruited through churches with a strict anti-choice agenda. These centers do everything in their power to persuade women facing unintended pregnancies to give birth, even if it is against their best interests. They provide outdated, false or inaccurate medical advice, often linking abortions to breast cancer and mental health problems. They sell an abstinence-only agenda to women who are already pregnant, and employ shady techniques to emotionally manipulate the women who come to them for help, either skirting the subject of abortion or shaming women for even considering it.

These centers do not provide abortions or contraception.

And they’re incredibly common, too. In Washington State alone there are over 40 LSPCs, a number which dwarfs that of real women’s health clinics, staffed by real medical professionals and abortion providers. The reason so few people know about them? Women seeking help from an LSPC will not receive unbiased and supportive advice — LSPCs aren’t healthcare providers, but they’re great at pretending they are.

Help spread the word. If you’ve been to one of these clinics yourself, consider sharing your story with us about your treatment at an LSPC to help us with our campaign.

Demand healthcare without delay, hassle, or agenda.

Don’t manipulate women. Know where your care is coming from.

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