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A new opinion piece from The New York Times framed Crisis Pregnancy Centers (C.P.C.s) as “deceptive” organizations that engage in medical “misinformation,” and urged individuals to take action in defunding them on Thursday.
“Their names sound benign, even comforting: Pregnancy Help Center. Options for Women. Clarity Clinic. You might not notice them if you drove by,” the piece began with interactive graphics, as more and more pictures of the buildings floated by.
“But crisis pregnancy centers are frontline outposts in the war against abortion. And there are more than 2,000 of them in the United States,” it said as the images turned to black and white then a U.S. map of all the C.P.C.s appeared.
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The two main authors of the opinion piece, Carly Thomsen and Carrie N. Baker, are both pro-choice professors in gender, sexuality and feminist studies and the study of women and gender, respectively.
They alleged that “anti-abortion activists” have spent “decades” fighting Roe v. Wade while cultivating a “network” of “so-called pregnancy centers,” which they claimed use deceptive practices in an attempt to manipulate women out of abortions, sometimes using taxpayer dollars. The op-ed was riddled with weasel words like “can,” “may,” “might” and “could,” to imply the worst.
The piece also framed C.P.C.s as organizations with an “agenda” that “takes advantage” of women’s “economic vulnerability,” and insinuated that more Black women will die if they engage with these centers.
“Black women are already 2.5 times as likely to die during childbirth as white women. If more Black women end up at C.P.C.s, they may experience more delays in obtaining professional prenatal care and encounter untrained volunteers who give them nondiagnostic ultrasounds that miss serious medical issues,” Thomsen and Baker claimed.
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In addition, the piece suggested “harms that C.P.C.s can have on…communities,” including the promotion of “false or misleading” medical information and the sharing of women’s private health information with “national anti-abortion networks.”
“Once inside a C.P.C., women can be greeted by volunteers or staff members wearing lab coats or hospital scrubs who, despite their appearance, are usually not medical professionals. These representatives might try to frighten women by falsely claiming that abortions lead to breast cancer, mental health issues or infertility,” the piece purported.
The piece largely ignored many of the significant resources available at these centers. C.P.C.s are pro-life organizations, often Christian, that offer free counseling, pregnancy tests, prenatal care, ultrasounds and baby items to mothers in need who might be considering abortion. In many cases, these groups even help women find jobs and housing to care for their growing families.
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The authors presented research that 16 million women of reproductive age in the U.S. currently live closer to a C.P.C. than to an abortion clinic.
If Roe is overturned, they estimated with alarm that number will more than double and “[m]ore than half of American women of reproductive age would live closer to a C.P.C. than to an abortion facility.”
This means that currently only about one in four women are closer to a C.P.C. than an abortion clinic, despite the fact that C.P.C.s, as the piece notes, outnumber abortion clinics three to one.
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They concluded with a call to action: “Individuals who are concerned about C.P.C.s can take action, too, by asking their representatives or church leaders to stop funding C.P.C.s or by calling their school board to make sure that a C.P.C. is not teaching the sex education in their middle or high school. And of course, change can come by simply raising awareness in one’s community, including by talking to family and friends.”