Disinformation at ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’

Disinformation at ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ November 1, 2011

A new investigation of “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) — really just propaganda centers where they try to convince women to surrender their reproductive rights — has found, unsurprisingly, that women are told all kinds of false and obnoxious things should they wander into one.

In 2006, a congressional investigation found the “vast majority” of federally funded centers provided false or misleading information. The investigation identified three main areas of concern: statements that there are links between abortion and breast cancer, infertility and mental illness.

In recent years, NARAL Pro-Choice state chapters have conducted investigations into the pregnancy clinics in New York, California, Maryland, Texas and Virginia, reaching the same general conclusions. Over the past year, the North Carolina office of the organization embarked on an identical investigation, studying the centers’ websites and other material, and sending staff and volunteers posing as pregnant women or couples into the clinics.

Carey Pope, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, said the organization decided to investigate in the state after discovering the number of centers had nearly doubled since 2006, to 122. And, she said, it seemed that abortion opponents were gaining momentum in the state.

Pope said the group’s investigators found numerous instances where crisis pregnancy centers were misinforming and misleading women. “Staff and volunteers often use propaganda to dissuade women from abortions,” she said.

NARAL says it found the majority of the centers it investigated in North Carolina had no medical professionals on staff, and only a quarter of them disclosed they were not medical facilities. More than two-thirds provided distorted or false information about abortion risks and consequences.

The report says one Jewish investigator who posed as a pregnant woman was told at five centers she wouldn’t go to heaven unless she converted to Christianity, and that one volunteer challenged her to become a “born-again virgin.”

The leader of the CPCs in North Carolina says they “can’t guarantee every word that comes out of a volunteer’s mouth will be what we hope.” Maybe if you employed actual medical staff instead of screeching fundamentalists, you’d have a bit more control.

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