Come for the Pregnancy Test, Leave with the Threat of Eternal Damnation

This didn’t help me sleep well last night.

There’s a story by Tina Dupuy in the Pasadena Weekly about a particular Christian “crisis pregnancy center.” Scared, vulnerable women come in to take the free pregnancy test, but end up sitting through much more.

The writer’s friend “Maggie” unknowingly went in for a visit:

After two-and-a-half hours the nurses ask Maggie if she would like to give her life to Jesus Christ and pray with them. Maggie is blindsided. All she wanted was to know if she was pregnant.

She leaves with a Bible and an existential crisis. “They were so convincing; they said all this stuff,” Maggie tells me, in tears, after her ordeal. “I don’t know. Is it wrong that I’m living with Mike?”

Her voice seems earnestly stressed about the answer.

“Tina, do you think I’m going to hell?”

Avenues is a California primary clinic, fully licensed and accredited by the state. So exactly what kind of medical facility lures women with the promise of free pregnancy tests and leaves them fearing eternal damnation?

They operate like Campus Crusade for Christ — in stealth. They sound like a place you might actually want to visit, until you step inside and realize exactly what you’re dealing with…

Tina, the author, visited the clinic herself to see if the claims of other women were true. The article recounts everything that happened during her visit.

In shot, she hears line after line of misinformation. And that’s before she gets handed the abstinence literature.

What did the author find out?

… I just spent nearly two hours of my time to get an admittedly unreliable pregnancy test, erroneous medical information and find out more than I ever wanted to know about the life of a sexless 35-year-old bass player.

This is a licensed medical clinic.

Frightening beyond belief. Read the article, and I’m sure you’ll feel the same.

Anyone have these centers in their neighborhood? Does your congressperson know about them?

What can be done to expose them (for false advertising) and revoke any medical licenses?

(Thanks to Bunny for the link!)

  • http://eridanus.net Dan

    Now I know where the ‘Church’ of Scientology get their moves from…

  • http://corvustristis.livejournal.com Corvus

    The one in my town is the Alpha Center. They offer STD testing too, and their ads are a constant in the local college paper. Sometimes the ads are more sneaky -”We’ll help you get the information you need in this difficult time” sort of thing, which (knowing what sorts of ‘information’ they give, namely lies and exaggerations to serve a political purpose) makes me kind of sick, and sometimes the agenda is a little more apparant with their whole “Find out about post-abortion syndrome!” schtick.

    I’ve always figured that, if I had extra money (HAH!), said college paper would probably love to run a little ad right next to the Alpha Center ad each week shedding a bit of light on their operation. The only agenda anyone purporting to give health care services should push is health.

  • Sarah TX

    Texas has these all over the state. Their billboards are particularly annoying. Thankfully, they’re pretty easy to spot, as their ads always say, “Pregnant? There is AN OPTION!!!!”

    It’s sort of odd because they get in a lot of trouble for giving medically-inaccurate information to their “patients”, and then on the other hand receive a lot of money from the state from the abstinence-only education fund…

  • Seabhag

    I can probably top most people who’ll post on this post. :( My mom was on the board of the steering committee to form the local crisis pregnancy center. She’s even done ‘post-aborition counciling’ for women who’ve had abortions. Locally, the CPC is very well funded by the AoG and Baptist churchs in town. Last I heard about it the local christian radio stations help do fun raisers for the center fairly often.

    As far as inaccurate garbage? If what I’ve heard my mom talk about what they say/do when someone comes in is accurate, then yeah they use a lot of inaccurate information to scare the women who come in. :(

  • Calla

    I’m surprised these places are licensed and accredited by the state. Do they actually offer any real medical services? Or don’t they even have to pretend they do?

    From the article:
    “Obviously, we’re fighting Satan. A killer, who in this case is the girl who wants to kill her baby, has no right to information that will help her kill her baby.”
    Obviously, it’s easier to scare and misinform the girls than give them real information and let them know that they really *do* have options.

  • matt

    yes they just opened one up in Ann Arbor, but I think planned parenthood and student groups put out the message that it was a ascam.

  • Skeptimal

    I didn’t realize these places were still a secret. My former pastor’s wife used to be active at one of these 25 years ago. Honestly, I assumed the tactic was well known by now. How have they been able to keep these places a secret for a quarter century?

  • anonymouse

    These people use scare tactics on women, many or most of them young, in the most vulnerable of times. It is absolutely disgusting. NO ONE has the right to do that to someone. I understand and respect someone else’s opinion on abortion, but this is sick. When I was a teenager, I went into one of these places to get a free pregnancy test. The woman running it didn’t outright say anything about Jesus, but she asked me what I’d do if I were pregnant. That’s a completely inappropriate question to begin with.
    She said having a baby wasn’t THAT expensive and that there’s help, etc. I think honestly her little “hope house” thing came from a place of caring (in her mind) because she was really nice to me, but it still felt bad and scary. For other people to take advantage and give out false info is not only unethical but dangerous.
    I can’t even read the whole article because I know it will make me really angry.

  • Sarah TX.

    I’m surprised these places are licensed and accredited by the state. Do they actually offer any real medical services? Or don’t they even have to pretend they do?

    In general, they are staffed by volunteers and are not licensed or accredited medical facilities. The women who end up there might as well pay the few dollars to buy a pregnancy test from the drug store, or they should at least go to the campus medical clinic.

  • SarahH

    My parents’ church supports one of these. On the surface, it seems like such a nice idea – a place to give free medical services and support to troubled pregnant teens and other women who don’t have anywhere else to turn. That ends up making their actions so much worse, because they’re preying on the vulnerable.

  • mvanstav

    Orange County just voted to pull funding from Planned Parenthood and instead put it into a clinic that sounds very much like this place.
    Me=terrified

  • Jen

    These places make me sick. I had one by my college, in the same strip mall as the Planned Parenthood, only the Bizarro version of PP where its perfectly acceptable to lie to the women who come in. I have read a lot about these on feminist blogs, and the lying, combined with the federal funding (what?) make me want to smash things in. I recommend the books This Common Secret and How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America for more info on them.

    Any other Illinoisans see those yellow CPC bumper stickers on every damn mini van in the state? I hate them. They make me have road rage like crazy

  • Polly

    “Obviously, we’re fighting Satan…

    Do they bore holes into the girls heads to let out the demons? What sort of medical practice is this?!?

  • Daryle

    I have to admit, as a Christian and a pro-life advocate, I was expecting to read this article and think that the atheists had blown it out of proportion and that what they were doing there was perfectly acceptable. But as I read it, I got more and more angry. I’m angry about being dishonest to the women who go in already scared and then come out with, not just a distorted view of pregnancy, but of God. What these clinics are doing is wrong, plain and simple. God has nothing to fear from the truth. I can’t believe so called Christians who think they are helping God by lying and deceiving.

    John 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

  • Kat

    http://www.cpcwatch.org has lots of info about these fake clinics.
    We have several here in my mid-westen conservative Christian town. Infact my husband (who loves to golf) was invited to a golf outing (his brother somehow got tickets for free) and found out after the fact that this “charity outing” was for the local CPC. When he told me he still wanted to go (he’s pro-choice too BTW, but also very very “pro-golf”) I to put it midly, went ballistic. He explained over and over that since the ticket was already paid forit wouldn’t REALLY matter if he went or not. I kept telling him that if he showed up it was clearly a statement that he supported their agenda. He disagreed, and mentioned that if he went and ate lots of free food he would be draining their resources (lol).
    In the end he decided to go, but made a large donation to planned parenthood the night before, so I guess I can’t complain.

  • Twin-Skies

    @Kat

    Thanks for the link.

    Absolutely disgusting what these people do. Reading the testimonials made me realize something – these people aren’t doing it out of genuine concern for their fellow human beings.

    They’re doing it to feed their holier-than-thou egos. in their mind, it’s simply a convenient way of getting brownie points, and the vulnerable women they “help” are just a means to that end.
    These facilites shouldn’t just be shut down, their organizers should be jailed too.

  • Tom

    What to do about false advertising: Report them to the state attorney general’s office.

    What to do about their alleged medical credentials: find out first if they claim to be offering medical services. If they do, find out if they have medical professionals on staff. If they don’t, report them for practicing medicine without a license. (Remember, it’s THEM claiming to be practicing medicine!) If they do, report the relevant medical professionals to your state’s licensing agency and their various professional organizations.

    In all reports, be very polite, stick to strictly factual statements, and request specific actions such as an investigation “potentially” leading to criminal charges or loss of license or fine, as appropriate.

  • Lysistrata

    when I was in college, I ended up at a place like this because I wanted reassurance that the home pregnancy test I had taken was accurate and I wasn’t pregnant. I ended up there because nobody had told me about places like Planned Parenthood (I grew up in a small city in Iowa and while I had sex education nobody ever mentioned that you could receive birth control outside of a doctor’s office.) The place advertised in the college paper.It sound warm and welcoming. They performed a similar test that I now know wasn’t any more sophisticated than the one I performed and probably took 5 minutes at most. Yet, I was made me sit through a 15 minute video that was pro-life and how I shouldn’t even consider abortion if I was actually pregnant. I felt used and abused at a time I was looking for reassurance and information.
    Here is a great opportunity for the secular student associations to get much needed information out on campus. Let students know about places like Planned Parenthood and how these other places are just masquerading as “clinics” to push religion. Such information would have helped me a lot.


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