One Washington County Takes a Stand Against Crisis Pregnancy Centers

A small group of Washington public officials recently voted to protect pregnant women by ensuring they’re better informed when they enter a crisis pregnancy center (CPC).

The King County Board of Health approved an ordinance that will require crisis pregnancy centers, also known as “limited service pregnancy centers” to post signs informing patients that they are not health care facilities.

The signs must read, “This facility is not a health care facility” in 10 languages—including English—in size 48 font, and be displayed where women can easily see them. Centers that do not comply will be fined $100 a day. Enforcement of the ordinance is complaint-based and will cost approximately $40,000 a year.

Activist group Legal Voice provided the board with a report on the centers based on visits by trained volunteers. They found that the centers provided women with medically inaccurate information about abortion, hid the fact that they don’t actually perform abortions, and refused to refer patients to other facilities for contraceptives or abortions, all of which is fairly standard practice for CPCs.

Nine out of the ten board members voted in favor of the proposal, with the goal of bringing “transparency and accurate information to pregnant women.”

“I believe women who are pregnant deserve complete, accurate and timely information about their health care and options,” said board chairman Rod Dembowski to the Seattle Times. “These centers are unregulated and are often staffed by volunteers and employees who lack medical training or licensure.”

Kim Triller, executive director of the CPC Care Net of Puget Sound, called the Legal Voice report “an absolute lie.”

Jonny Nicoli, a supporter of CPCs who spoke to the Seattle Times, rather bizarrely compared the proposal to Nazi Germany, stating, “That’s the same way a powerful government oppressed the Jewish population, by putting up signs.”

CPCs are hardly an oppressed population and the displaying of signs wasn’t exactly the crux of the Holocaust…but okay, buddy.

Estimates suggest the decision will affect only eight out of 66 centers in the state of Washington; though the step is small, it’s a critical beacon of hope in a dark time for women’s right and health. It’s also an all-too-rare example of decision-makers actually considering women’s health and well-being when making decisions about women’s health and well-being.

The problem with CPCs isn’t that they are faith based or anti-choice, it’s that they intentionally deceive women with medically inaccurate information to try to bully them into carrying a pregnancy to term even if it’s not what they want. CPCs will do whatever it takes to prevent women from having—or even considering—an abortion, no matter the cost to that woman.

“What’s really dangerous about someone walking into a CPC is that CPC has a single aim, and that aim is to make sure that the woman carries her pregnancy to term,” said Sarah Croucher, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut. “And that’s not an aim that’s about caring about women and what’s in their best interests and helping them make decisions that are right for them. [Crisis pregnancy centers] will give whatever garbage information they want to achieve their aim.”

CPCs are known to wrongly tell women that abortions are dangerous and painful and can increase risk of breast-cancer (which is not true) or that abortion can lead to post-abortion stress syndrome, an illness not recognized by the medical community. Sometimes, staff will even lie about the gestational age of the fetus to make women believe it is too late for them to legally pursue an  abortion.

Some CPCs even set up shop next to real abortion clinics, taking on a similar name, logo and color scheme to trick women into entering the wrong location.

NARAL investigated 27 CPCs in Connecticut and found “a consistent pattern of misinformation, deceptive advertising, and blatant lies about reproductive health.” And yet, there are currently over 3,500 CPCs in the United States compared to about 800 abortion clinics.

California is currently the only other state making an effort to regulate CPCs and ensure women aren’t being manipulated. The FACT Act requires CPCs in California to inform women of their abortion options online and in person.

Other states are very far behind, either leaving CPCs entirely unregulated or actually using tax dollars to fund them.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

53 comments

Jen S
Jen S3 months ago

This action is truly necessary, as these centers lie to those naïve enough to enter them. A baby is a long-term commitment, and their typical donation of formula and diapers and whatever is gone in a month. Listening to their coy rationalizations for deliberate lies is beyond pathetic although it does clarify their primary goal is the fetus, most assuredly not the woman. I donate to Planned Parenthood whenever the right wing idiots piously condemn this (truthful, and real-world dwelling,) group

SEND
Carl R
Carl R3 months ago

Thanks!!!

SEND
Margie F
Margie F3 months ago

If you want to play, you have to accept the responsibilities

SEND
pam w
pam w3 months ago

Jerri A makes it all sound so lovely, doesn't she? Well, as someone who actually works at Planned Parenthood, I can tell you that a few diapers and formula is NOTHING, compared to 20+ years of having to support an unwanted child. Any organization calling itself a ''support'' center is suspicious if they have to disguise the true purpose...which is fetal support--NOT female support.

SEND
Nicole H
Nicole H3 months ago

It is hard to believe for a European woman that in the U.S. there are so many institutions who are trying to prevent a girl or a woman to get an abortion. I do not say that abortion must become a "routine" matter. Far from that. I had one - regretfully - because my 1st husband put me before the choice : Or I got my 2nd child and he would walk out, or I got an abortion. In that time, viz. more than 40 years ago, it was not that "normal" to be a single mom. Moreover, I was without a job and with a 1 year old. So, there really was NO choice. But I can assure you : there is a lot of shame and guilt afterwards. Notwithstanding my bad experience I am PRO abortion. There are so many situations that allow abortion without any further discussion. And any organization that tries to alter a girl's or a woman's decision from getting an abortion SHOULD BE CLOSED DOWN. We are living in the 21st century. Single moms can easily survive now, because it is generally accepted and it is no longer the case that most companies will not give you a job because of you being a single mom.. That's all I have to say about this !!!

SEND
Carl R
Carl R3 months ago

Thanks!!!

SEND
Jerrie A
Jerrie A3 months ago

The pregnancy center in our area offers free pregnancy tests, free ultrasounds, 22 free classes for the clients including financial, paternity classes, birthing classes, infant cpr, Health Insurance & the Affordable Care Act class, Safe Sleep, Kohl's "Safe at Home" program, "Charge it Right", Newborn Baby Care and many other classes. They provide free prenatal vitamins, medicaid applications, proof of pregnancies, New cribs, clothes, diapers, wipes, 44 community referrals, and a licensed Community Health Worker on site. All medical is oversighted by a licenses OB/GYN who volunteers his time and insurance. All ultrasounds and testing is done by volunteer RN's. They help 150 women a month. You should visit a pregnancy center.

SEND
Karen H
Karen H3 months ago

Don't be surprised, Paul. The patriarchal Christian church has got its claws firmly embedded in the U.S., and as long as they can continue to put "their kind" in office, we'll continue to see the "slutty Jezebels" being punished and women controlled by rich white men. If you had a broken leg, would you go to a clinic that only wanted to talk to you about sprains? If a clinic can't provide complete treatment and advice, it should be stated up front and in HUGE letters.

SEND
Margaret G
Margaret Goodman3 months ago

Roberto M. writes that the crisis pregnancy centers are very good. In what ways are they very good?

SEND
Margaret G
Margaret Goodman3 months ago

Sandy Gardner seems to believe that she got valuable information fom a crisis pregnancy center. It certainly is a shame that Sandy could not afford to go to a doctor. And I wonder what valuable information Sandy received.

SEND