Crisis Pregnancy Centers Continue to Mislead Women

By Rachel Walden — April 21, 2010, partnering with RH Reality Check and the Feminist Majority Foundation, has launched a petition campaign related to “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) – “clinics” that often advertise free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds and are set up with the intent to talk women out of choosing abortion.

The centers have often been criticized based on reports that they mislead women about the health and psychological effects of abortion and misrepresent the services they offer. The petition targets members of Congress with a request that they “support legislation that would stop CPCs’ deceptive advertising practices, require that accurate medical information is provided, and eliminate ALL federal funding for CPCs.”

In previous years, the “Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Services Act” has been introduced in Congress. The proposed legislation would direct the Federal Trade Commission to make rules prohibiting fraudulent advertising of abortion services, but the act has not made it out of committee.

The campaign page mentions a Congressional report that found that “87% provide false and misleading information about birth control and abortion.” That statement refers to this 2006 report requested by Rep. Henry Waxman, in which 23 of 25 such centers receiving federal funds were contacted by investigators posing as pregnant 17-year-old women trying to decide whether to have an abortion. The investigators reported that the contacted centers provided “false and misleading information” about a link between abortion and breast cancer, the effect of abortion on future fertility, the effect of abortion on future fertility, and the mental health effects of abortion.

In other recent CPC news, controversy broke out over Lilith Fair’s “Choose Your Charity” campaign when it was noticed that initial charity selections included CPCs. In Austin, TX, the city council voted to require pregnancy centers that don’t offer or refer clients to abortion services or birth control services to post signs saying so to reduce confusion about what services the CPCs do and don’t offer. Elsewhere, RH Reality Check notes that the Archdiocese of Baltimore is suing the city over a similar regulation.

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