San Francisco Battles Against Crisis Pregnancy Center Deception


For a woman who has discovered she is carrying an unwanted pregnancy, emotions are already running high. So taking advantage of that fact by pretending to be an office that offers abortion services or referrals for a woman seeking to terminate her pregnancy, simply to get her inside to try and convince her that she needs to have the baby, is beyond cruel.

But that’s just what crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) across the country do every day. Many are set up next to, across the street from, or in the same building as clinics that provide abortions or referrals, and use similar sounding names to confuse women who may end up in the wrong place. Unlike clinics, which are subject to privacy laws and offer medically based facts, licensed practitioners and a full service of support, CPCs, many of which are Christian based, will tell you that abortion causes breast cancer and suicide, that you’re going to be a wonderful mother, or that your baby is too far along for an abortion. Should you be lucky enough to simply get away with a meeting and some minor discussion about why you should give birth and raise the child or put it up for adoption, if you ask for any referral for an actual abortion provider or birth control, you will be refused.

It was these deceptive practices that led various cities to propose laws stating that CPCs must place signs outside their buildings announcing what they actually are — centers that do not provide or refer for abortions or birth control. CPCs continue to fight the regulation, saying that forcing them to advertise what services they don’t offer constitutes limiting their “freedom of speech.”

Now, California is ready to enter the fray as well. The city of San Francisco is proposing their own law forbidding CPCs from “engaging in false or misleading advertising practices.” Failure to comply means fines and penalties.

For the pregnancy centers involved, they are proclaiming a clear violation of freedom of speech, stating that there is no record of them actually using misleading advertising practices.

But the internet begs to differ. Some centers have been buying up Google ads in order to be the top result when a person searches for “abortions in San Francisco.” The center says the practice isn’t deceptive, despite the fact that their ad reads that they provide “counseling and medical care to women who are making decisions about unplanned pregnancies. By medical care, apparently, they are referring to pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. But that’s all.

So is accusing CPCs of false advertising really limiting free speech, or enacting truth in advertising laws? The legislation, should it pass, will likely end up in a court case that will ultimately provide us with an answer to that question.


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Photo credit: wikimedia commons


Carol M.
Carol m5 years ago

There are very few times when a woman gets raped that she ends up pregnet, only a made up excuse to end the baby .

SeattleAnn S.
Ann S6 years ago

Ironically, these are the same people who are against providing health care (or any other kind of support for that matter) once the baby arrives and the mother cannot afford to take care of it.

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush6 years ago

We all know, by now, that this issue is not about LIFE. It is about 'control'. It is about the control, the conservative bunch want to exert over the majority of our citizens. The very same people, who are so anti-choice, are the very same people, in most cases, who are in agreement with the death penalty.
You can't it both ways.

There are many young children, whose lives are in danger of striving and repeated abuse, who need homes and a loving family, in which to grow. These are the _lives_ that should be the concern of the anti-choice people.

Betsy M.
Betsy M6 years ago

Why is this tolerated? What if a vitamin shop set up a clinic that mimicked the cancer centre next door? And used it to obtain personal and financial information on their weakened clients? However genuinely and lovingly they provided information they believed to be true, I think they would be shut down. BTW I believe there are non-standard cancer treatments that are successful, but duping weakened patients is not a legitimate way to inform people.
hmmm some update seems to have switched me over to a British spell-checker...

timothy m.
timothy m6 years ago

Aren't there already laws on the books prohibiting false advertising?

Lilithe Magdalene

@ Marianne - Good goddess, poor girl! I hope she can figure out who her rapists are and have their... well, that's the rad fem in me about to come out, I'm gonna hush her up. God I hate men sometimes. Sorry to all of you decent honorable men out there, but a good portion of your tribe give you a bad name. And shame, Shame, SHAME on that CPC for putting that girl through that.

Just like food labels have to list what is in their product (would it be a violation of "freedom of speech" to be made to list ingredients they would not want people to know about?), then places that deal with a woman's health and wellness need to advertise accordingly.

@ Gerry, Don and Brian - spoken like a privileged male. Having been there, the stress of an unplanned pregnancy can make finding the right direction difficult - especially if you are in a condition of poverty or in my case, illness.

Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

“freedom of speech” does not equal “engaging in false or misleading advertising practices" better know as lies. @Tom Y. If these place are doing such good; then why do they have to lie to get women to go there?

Marianne C.
Marianne C6 years ago

As disturbing as what they do is that they don't seem to know how similar the force they use on and against women is to rape.

Forcing a woman to have sex is evil and immoral. Forcing a woman to become pregnant is evil and immoral. How could it possible be good and moral to force a woman to REMAIN pregnant when she doesn't want to be? How could is possibly be anything but the uttermost abyss of evil to force a woman to bear the product of rape?

They just don't get it. Force is force, and they are as bad as the rapists.

Lyssa C.
Lyssa C6 years ago

Ditto to comment below mine.

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton6 years ago

Every woman has the right to choose.