What NPR Missed...

Today marks the 9th day of the #ExposeFakeClinics nationwide campaign to write honest, real reviews of crisis pregnancy centers. Created by Lady Parts Justice League and the Abortion Access Hackathon, over forty medical clinics, reproductive health advocacy groups, and volunteer groups have invited the public to call crisis pregnancy centers nationwide for help with pregnancy options, then write an accurate review of the experience. Crisis pregnancy centers appear to support all pregnancy options publicly, while privately being known as anti-abortion advocacy groups and clinic protesters.

Image created by #ShoutYourAbortion for #ExposeFakeClinics

Image created by #ShoutYourAbortion for #ExposeFakeClinics

Yesterday, bastion of public radio, All Things Considered, published a report titled “How Crisis Pregnancy Center Clients Rely on Medicaid.” Medicaid has been a hot topic discussion as our Republican legislature beats the dead horse of Affordable Care Act repeal. It does seem more than coincidental that NPR writer Sarah McCammon has chosen this week, of all weeks, to spotlight Crisis Pregnancy Centers in her Medicaid story, as Rewire, Bitch, Bust, and Bustle have already covered our #ExposeFakeClinics campaign.

We tried giving McCammon the benefit of the doubt - as a journalist, she is presenting the facts and letting her readers decide, right? Well, let us talk about the facts she did not consider.

In a story about pregnancy options and Medicaid, why not speak about All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center? Providing services in the same town as The Hannah Center, All-Options offers “open-hearted support for all...experiences with pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption.” They also offer free pregnancy tests, diaper support, and referrals to ministries, food banks, and housing support, as well as a nationwide free help line. Where The Hannah Center and All-Options differ, however, is that All-Options does not blatantly attempt to dissuade their clients from considering abortion or counsel against abortion procedures.

In a story about pregnancy options and Medicaid, would it not be relevant to report that the vast majority of crisis pregnancy centers are unregulated facilities? These centers provide counseling on pregnancy, abortion, adoptions, but they do not abide by HIPAA (the act that protects your healthcare privacy), and they regularly do not have doctors or any other sort of medical personnel on staff.

In fact, some communities have taken legal action. King County (Seattle), Washington requires limited service pregnancy centers to post a notice stating, “This facility is not a health care facility.” The ordinance mandates the notice appear in large font, in ten languages, onsite and in the pregnancy center’s advertising. New York City CPCs are required to inform clients whether or not there is a licensed medical provider on staff. The city of San Francisco, by law, restricts CPCs from advertising for services they do not provide, like abortion. California state law requires all CPC’s to disclose on their website and in-clinic if they are not a licensed medical provider, and must post the state phone number for free reproductive care.

Throughout this past week, clinics have shared the daily harassment their clients face from neighboring crisis pregnancy centers on social media, with #ExposeFakeClinics hashtag. For example, McAllen Pregnancy Center staff dress as nurses and try to steer abortion patients to their anti-abortion counseling center.

Created by #ShoutYourAbortion for #ExposeFakeClinics

Created by #ShoutYourAbortion for #ExposeFakeClinics

No, it does not appear as though McCammon has considered all the facts. She has considered that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) report that “uninsured women have higher rates of pregnancy complications.” She has not considered that ACOG also recognizes CPCs provide a significant public health risk to pregnant people accessing comprehensive care from trained medical professionals.

Instead, it appears McCammon has taken a play out of the CPC guidebook by offering a very limited and deceptive view of what CPCs actually offer. I encourage her to pull back her blinders and reveal the entire view of the landscape of reproductive health care. Offices that provide all options for pregnant people are becoming increasingly at risk of losing their funding due to the political activity of the CPC community. In 2013, 34 states funded these deceptive organizations, while denying funding for clinics that provide actual medical services. In fact, some states take money from programs for needy families, and fund CPC’s. To congratulate CPCs for “helping pregnant women” is to deny the work of real professionals offering people health care and complete control over their own reproduction.

CPCs are based on deception and half-truths, much like McCammon’s article. If you want the whole truth, visit exposefakeclinics.com. There you will find testimonials from doctors who treat people denied help at CPCs, people with wanted pregnancies that became jeopardized by the inexperience of CPC volunteers, and the origins of crisis pregnancy centers. While their methods differ, one thing among crisis pregnancy centers is universal - their attempts to control our reproduction. 

- The Abortion Access Hackathon & Lady Parts Justice League