What Are Crisis Pregnancy Centers And What Is Their Purpose
Robert Pearson founded the first CPC in 1967 after abortion became legal. CPCs have always had religious ties and anti-abortion messaging.
Now, roughly 90% of CPCs are operated by three nonprofit organizations:
The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates has more than 1,600 CPCs across the country. The mission, according to its website, is to empower abortion-vulnerable women and families to choose life.
Heartbeat International has more than 3,000 CPC affiliates worldwide. According to its website, it aims to make abortion unwanted and unthinkable.
Legality Of Advertising Methods
Much legal and legislative action around CPCs has attempted to rein in deceptive advertising by CPCs seeking to give the impression that they provide abortions or other women’s health services.
Lawsuits against a number of CPCs have determined that they engaged in false advertising and required them to change their methods, or led to settlements where they agreed to do so. CPCs that advertised that they provided abortion services were forbidden from doing so or obliged to affirmatively tell clients that they did not do so. In some instances, CPCs were prohibited from using names similar to nearby medical clinics that provided abortions, from providing pregnancy tests, or from advertising pregnancy tests as “free” if they were conditional upon hearing a presentation or counseling. In one of these cases, the CPC argued that they did not receive money from clients and were therefore not subject to regulations on commercial speech, but the court ruled that they were not exempt because they aimed to provide services rather than exchange ideas.
In the United Kingdom, the Advertising Standards Authority mandated in 2013 that the Central London Women’s Centre must stop using “misleading” and “irresponsible” advertisements implying that it offered abortion services.
Services Provided By Cpcs
The operation of CPCs relies on over 40,000 volunteers, the majority of whom are laypersons however, some medical professionals work in select clinics on either a paid or volunteer basis.12,13 Staff in CPCs are primarily white and middle class.4 Comparatively, CPCs target their marketing towards and are attended most frequently by young people, people of color, and individuals of lower socioeconomic status.14,15 This focus on disenfranchised communities highlights the exploitative practices of CPCs, especially when considering that these centers often offer free services in exchange for participation in abstinence seminars or Bible studies.16 While comprehensive reproductive health clinics have strict requirements regarding patient confidentiality, quality of medical care, and hygiene and safety practices, CPCs are not held to any regulatory standards and enjoy significantly less government oversight despite often being listed in state-sponsored pregnancy resource lists.10
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Fact Sheet: Pregnancy Centers Serving Women And Saving Lives
To view the fact sheet as a PDF see: Fact Sheet: Pregnancy Centers Serving Women and Saving Lives
WHAT ARE THEY?
Pro-life pregnancy centers are faith-based, community-based, not-for-profit organizations which first began to appear in the U.S. in the late 1960s, as abortion was becoming legal, to provide care and resources to assist women with immediate and ongoing needs related to unexpected pregnancy. Their focus on alternatives to abortion, also known as life-affirming services, was and is designed to empower a woman to welcome her child into the world. Today, pregnancy centers provide an expanded range of essential and professional care encompassing support services, medical care, and resources, usually at no cost to the women, men, and youth they serve. Personalized care is provided within a respectful, compassionate, and supportive environment by trained workers/individuals.
In 2021, there are approximately 3,000 pregnancy center locations in the U.S. .
WHAT DO THEY DO?
WHATS THE IMPACT?
Data from 2019 shows that pro-life pregnancy centers served close to 2 million people, with services and material assistance with a Total Value of over $266 million.
2019 Findings for 2,700 centers in the U.S.
WHO VALUES PREGNANCY CENTER WORK?
Pregnancy centers are a shining example of how Love Saves Lives and stand on their strong record of care. Read more at www.lozierinstitute.org/pcr2020.
Do The Centers Perform Adoption Referrals
Most women who face crisis pregnancies decide to keep and raise the baby. But if you are unable or unwilling to do so, the crisis center will give you a referral to a good adoption agency that will walk you through the process. The adoption option should always be available, and there is no shame in placing a child in a home who you know can provide a better future for your child.
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Other Misinformation About Abortion
Inaccurate information that some crisis pregnancy centers disseminate about the need for, or availability of, abortion appears to be aimed at delaying or interfering with women’s access to services. For example, the Web sites of two centers in New York State have advised women that they may be at risk for miscarriage and that abortion may therefore be unnecessary.9 However, the information was misleading because it failed to distinguish between the risk of pregnancy loss at the earliest stages of pregnancy and the substantially reduced risk in later weeks.35
At some centers in Maryland and New York, staff have advised women that abortions are legal throughout pregnancy and told women they can take their time to decide whether to undergo an abortion.9,10 While abortion laws vary by state, no state allows unrestricted access to abortion throughout pregnancy, and all states prohibit lateterm abortions except where required to protect the life or health of the woman.36,37 Abortions are least complicated and more accessible, both legally and medically, within the first trimester.
In addition to being associated with higher mortality rates than early abortions, secondtrimester procedures are more expensive,41 involve more complex procedures,38,39 and carry greater surgical risks and higher risks of complications.38,39 They also are more difficult to obtain than firsttrimester abortions in many parts of the United States because of a dearth of trained practitioners.39,42
Ask About All Available Services
You may also be able to spot red flags by calling the organization and asking about its services.
A reputable health clinic will be transparent about what services it offers and provide a referral for any services it doesnt.
If the organization doesnt offer contraceptives like condoms or abortion services, ask if they can refer you to a clinic or provider who does.
The organization is likely a CPC if the person youre speaking with:
- wont refer you to a birth control or abortion provider
- encourages you to come into the clinic for an appointment to talk about your request for contraceptive or abortion services
- says theyll refer you to a birth control or abortion provider if you come into the clinic for a consultation
- promises financial aid or other support if you continue the pregnancy
- only offers information about fertility awareness methods for birth control
- says negative things about condoms or other forms of birth control, abortion, or sex
- claims that abortion is unsafe or illegal
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What Kind Of Help Will Do I Get
Many crisis pregnancy centers provide free pregnancy testing, pregnancy tests, and information about pregnancy options. These centers will often provide free medical services and material assistance, sometimes until the infant reaches 2 years old.
If you suspect you may be pregnant, a pregnancy center can provide free, confidential pregnancy testing. Those looking for confirmation of their pregnancy from a medical professional will find certified nurses ready to support them.
Those looking for an abortion pill reversal may be able to find it at a crisis pregnancy center. You can check online to find the nearest center local to your home or office.
Your pregnancy center will likely also provide free ultrasounds and counseling. Classes taught by registered nurses can teach you about pregnancy, childbirth, and baby care. You may learn about nutrition, exercise, breastfeeding, and infant CPR. Expectant mothers can take courses on successfully co-parenting with an ex, and expecting fathers can take courses on how they can be supportive. Money management and parenting classes may also be offered.
A pregnancy center can provide you with a consultation regarding making a birth plan. If youre wondering how youre going to afford and manage giving birth and staying in a hospital, pregnancy centers can provide you with the resources you need to start getting prepared.
Misinformation About Contraceptives And Condoms
Clinics that offer pregnancy tests are well positioned to provide information about contraception and STD prevention to a sexually active clientele. However, most crisis pregnancy centers do not provide such information. In two investigations, the centers that did discuss contraceptives provided inaccurate information about the failure rate of condoms and their permeability to STDs, as well as misinformation about the harmful effects of hormonal contraceptives.10,11
Crisis pregnancy centers provision of inaccurate information about contraceptives and condoms raises additional concerns. The majority of teenagers who visit clinics to get a pregnancy test are not pregnant.43 However, some of them are engaging in highrisk sexual behavior and are at significant risk of contracting STDs and of becoming pregnant. In one study, 33% of teenagers who had a negative pregnancy test at a community clinic became pregnant within 18 months.44
When informing clients of a negative pregnancy test, community clinics have a brief window in which to provide contraceptive information and STD counseling to a population in need of these services. From a public health perspective, as others have also noted, the failure to take advantage of this window is a crucial missed opportunity.43-46
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What Are Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Crisis pregnancy centers are clinics or mobile vans that look like real health centers, but they’re run by anti-abortion activists who have a shady, harmful agenda: to scare, shame, or pressure you out of getting an abortion, and to tell lies about abortion, birth control, and sexual health.
Crisis pregnancy centers dont provide abortion or offer a full range of health care, and they wont give you honest facts about sexual health and your pregnancy options their goal is to spread misinformation and propaganda.
Most crisis pregnancy centers arent legitimate medical clinics, so they dont have to follow HIPAA and keep your information private, like most real health care providers do. These crisis pregnancy centers could even give your information to other anti-abortion organizations or use it to harass you. This could be especially concerning if you live in a state with anti-abortion laws.
Crisis pregnancy centers usually try really hard to seem like a normal doctors office. They might have ultrasound machines, staff in white coats, medical-sounding names, and professional websites. They also often post signs near or are located very close to real health centers like Planned Parenthood. They do all of this to try to trick you into coming to CPC instead, so they can pressure you into making certain decisions about sex and pregnancy.
Do Crisis Pregnancy Centers Have Crisis Counseling
Staff at crisis pregnancy centers are fully aware of the fact that many pregnancies are, in fact, the result of a crisis. Whether the pregnancy was the result of a rape, incest, human trafficking, or the threat of being thrown from a parents house, these are traumatic experiences in connection with the pregnancy. Staff and personnel realize that the trauma may last well after the baby is born. These centers will be there to help you.
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What Do Crisis Pregnancy Centers Do
What might not be immediately apparent to someone seeking help at a CPC is that these centers take a distinct anti-abortion approach to pregnancy in that unintended or crisis pregnancies have two viable options, adoption or parenting. Multiple undercover or secret shopper surveys of CPCs and detailed reviews of the centers promotional materials and websites reveal that these centers give the impression of being medical clinics or having medical expertise . Often using neutral-sounding language, these centers offer to help women with free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and counseling on all options for pregnancy. In addition, pregnant women are often offered resources such as maternity clothes, diapers, and parenting classes. These centers often offer to give a pregnancy verification form, which women can use to enroll in prenatal care or to apply for government assistance with medical care .
Do The Centers Perform Ultrasounds
Seeing is believing, in some cases. If you see your baby, you will most likely keep your baby. Do you want to know what your baby looks like, while in your womb? Do you want to count those fingers and toes? Do you want to see and feel your baby kick? A crisis pregnancy center that has an ultrasound is the perfect place to go to have that performed. These centers will do this free of charge and with no obligation. As a matter of fact, most women who face an unexpected pregnancy, when seeing an ultrasound of her baby, decide to keep and raise the baby herself.
A History Of Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Before 1900, there were several crisis pregnancy centers located in major cities throughout the USA. It was common for socially-minded folks to set up centers that provided housing and food for women who had nowhere else to turn. Some homes had room for more than 1,000 expecting mothers to live in at one time. A few of the largest centers included Homes of Mercy and the Jewish Home for Girls.
The first crisis pregnancy center came to the United States in 1967 as a response to a states liberal abortion laws. It was opened by Robert Pearson in Hawaii. Through organizations like Focus on the Family, the Care Net, and the National Institute of Christian Life Advocates, they continued to grow throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
As of 2017, there were over 2,000 crisis pregnancy centers throughout the United States. They provide a slate of complementary services for women that include care by a licensed medical professional as well as counseling and social service referrals.
Are The Centers Faith
Many people do not believe in God, and thats fine. But many people do. If you do, you can rest assured that the people who are serving you are on the same page when it comes to faith issues. Staff at crisis pregnancy centers that are faith-based will respect your viewpoints, will pray for you if you want, and will put you in touch with clergy and other like-minded people. Please note and be aware that many faith-based centers will not give abortion referrals, nor will the centers promote the use of contraceptives. Many faith-based centers believe that abstinence if you are not married, is the best form of birth control. Many faith-based centers believe that a good relationship with your significant other and relationship with God are the best cures in preventing a future crisis pregnancy.
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Need Immediate Support With A Pregnancy Decision
Pregnancy Centers are local, nonprofit organizations that provide compassionate support to women and men faced with difficult pregnancy decisions. Care Net is dedicated to partnering with independent pregnancy centers and providing them with the resources they need to serve their local communities.
Pregnancy isn’t always expected and can often come at a difficult time that’s where Care Net pregnancy centers come in. With an affiliated center you can trust that you’ll only receive accurate information and confidential services. Clients are able to obtain these services without charge at almost every center.
In 2018, Care Net affiliates provided clients with more than $62 million of free services.
Affiliated Care Net Pregnancy Centers may differ in what they can offer to their clients. It is best to research individual locations in advance to ensure that the services you need are covered in your area.
Crisis Centers Outnumber Abortion Clinics
Crisis pregnancy centers drastically outnumber abortion clinics in the United States. There were 790 abortion clinics operating in 2021, compared with about 2,600 crisis pregnancy centers, according to a database compiled by Reproaction, an abortion-rights group.
That disparity is only likely to grow in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. Hartshorn, the chair of Heartbeat International, said the organization has created an online training program to help people open new pregnancy centers, especially in places without existing ones.
We need more people, we need more places, and we need more paths to pregnancy health, Hartshorn said.
A study by the National Center for Responsive Philanthropy found that the groups have taken in more and more money in recent years: They received over $1 billion in revenue in 2019, the most recent year data was available, compared to about $771 million in 2015.
Several women who went to state-funded crisis pregnancy centers told CNN they felt misled and manipulated by the groups, and disturbed that they were getting taxpayer money.
Last year, a woman who asked to be identified by her middle name, Eve, had just lost her job when she suspected she might be pregnant. She and her boyfriend went to Womens Care Center in Columbus after finding the group on Google. Money was tight, and she chose the center which is receiving more than $700,000 from the state of Ohio in the current fiscal year because it promised free pregnancy testing.
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