As part of a new national trend, states are attempting to expose the deception of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) and New York has taken the lead and passed a historic city ordinance (Bill 371) that will regulate fake clinics in being truthful on what types of services they do and do not provide. This news is a bright spot during these current chaotic times where women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health services are being put on the chopping block. It is shocking that CPCs overwhelm and outnumber comprehensive women’s health clinics with a 3,500 CPCs listed nationwide. The New York City council stated that, “The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges that comprehensive prenatal care begin as soon as a woman decides to become pregnant. Similar to prenatal care, delayed access to abortion and emergency contraception poses a threat to public health. Delay in accessing abortion or emergency contraception creates increased health risks and financial burdens, and may eliminate a woman’s ability to obtain these services altogether, severely limiting her reproductive health options”. The bill regulates CPCs by requiring them to:
- Disclose to a client that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene encourages women to consult with a licensed medical provider.
- Disclose if there is no licensed medical provider on staff.
- Disclose if it does or does not provide referrals for abortion, emergency contraception, or prenatal care.
- Post disclosures at the entrance and waiting room (in both English and Spanish).
- Disclosures are required to be given over the phone.
New York is not the first state to pressure CPCs to provide honest and comprehensive health care, Maryland and Texas have passed similar bills to regulate CPCs. The state of Washington has also tried to pass a similar bill, the “Limited Service Pregnancy Center Accountability Act”.
As people all over the country fight for reproductive rights and access to comprehensive women’s health clinics, there is a presence of deceptive “clinics” that offer limited resources to those in need. Access to family planning and basic medical care has become a dire task with the presence of fake clinics. Crisis Pregnancy Center’s (CPCs) are clinics that pose to be clinics under names like “Pregnancy Aid”, “Open Door”, and “Pregnancy Counseling Center.” CPCs target young, poor, and minority women who have limited resources to family planning and contraceptives. These clinics use misleading advertisements to delay, persuade, and intimidate women from receiving the health care they need. Many of these clinics are affiliated with anti-choice organizations and do not perform abortions or give referrals to clinics that do. What’s even more ridiculous is the fact that many of these “clinics” do not have staff that are medically trained-lacking licensed doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners.
The Feminist Majority Foundation has been a part of a large movement to stop CPCs from providing false and misleading information. Our Choices Campus Leadership Program has organized and mobilized with students all over the country to expose fake clinics and promote truth in advertising. This is a victory and stride towards reproductive rights. If you want to expose fake clinics and give people access to comprehensive health care, please join the Campaign to Expose Fake Clinics and get involved in FMF’s National “Don’t Be Fooled by Fake Clinics” Week of Action happening the week leading up to April Fool’s Day from March 28th- April 1st!
Some other ideas to take action on exposing CPCs:
- Make CPC exposure a priority in your campus feminist club.
- Talk to student government about promoting truth in advertising on campus.
- Go to the health center at your school to see what kinds of clinics they refer and find out if CPCs are on that list.
- Check out our action kit to find videos, petitions, flyers, and other great resources!
- Sign the petition to Stop funding for Fake Clinics and Abstinence-Only Education! Stop Deceptive Advertising Practices!
Most importantly, educate yourself on the issue and make sure that those around you know that the presence of these fake clinics pose serious risks and should not be relied on as primary healthcare. The best thing you can do as an activist is to be VOCAL on the issue and don’t be afraid to get LOUD about it!