What Really Happens Inside A “Crisis Pregnancy Center”? Slate Explains

Yesterday, I talked about Florida’s “Woman’s Right To Know Act,” which sounds all lovely and innocuous but is actually this Orwellian-named, anti-abortion bill that would require women, including rape and incest victims, to see an ultrasound of their fetus before an abortion. Oh. Ugh. So-called “crisis pregnancy centers” — which can also be called innocuous-sounding “pregnancy help centers” or “pregnancy care centers” — take the cake for Orwellian names. America’s 3,000+ CPCs portray themselves as “clinics” to help women with unwanted pregnancies. However, they are often run by and/or almost entirely bankrolled by anti-abortion activists or Christian groups and despite occasionally owning an ultrasound machine, have no medical professionals on staff. As Slate.com’s Explainer, um, explains, a 2006 investigation by Congress even found some CPCs tell women over the phone that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer, which a lil’ something called the National Cancer Institute says is not true. The Slate.com Explainer piece is a great, basic look into the dodgy practices at CPCs (including “dressing nonmedical personnel in white coats” and “explicit proselytizing” — FUN!), but I watch a lot of documentary films and one that will leave a lasting impression on me for years to come is 2010’s “12th And Delaware.” You can watch the HBO trailer here:


Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Oscar nominees for “Jesus Camp”) turned their attention to a town in Fort Pierce, Florida, where an abortion clinic and a so-called “crisis pregnancy center” are located literally across the street from each other. The film does not argue a point-of-view but presents its subjects — the medical professionals that run the abortion clinic, the anti-abortion activists that run the CPC — as is and lets the viewer make judgment calls. I watched the film with a ton of pro-choice activists, however, so we, of course, were gobsmacked and galled to see the behavior of the CPC employees admit onscreen that they’ll even lie to a pregnant woman about how far along she is if it can trick her into not having an abortion. They even offered baby clothes, stuffed animals, and money to women to persuade them not to terminate a pregnancy.

You really have to see “12th & Delaware” yourself — and no, visiting a CPC yourself is not a Frisky-recommended alternative.

[Slate: What Happens At A Pregnancy Help Center?]
[National Cancer Institute: Abortion, Miscarriage & Breast Cancer]