Well over half of the states in the country are directly funding “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs), right-wing groups that pose as nonpartisan health clinics while advocating for an anti-abortion agenda. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, 34 states currently have policies that funnel money toward CPCs:
Aside from designating family planning funds for CPCs, states can endorse them in a few other ways that sometimes slip under the radar. Some states have unnecessary restrictions on abortion that require women to undergo a mandatory counseling session or ultrasound procedure before being allowed to terminate a pregnancy, and choose to direct women to CPCs to fulfill those requirements. Or states can sell specialty license plates with pro-life messages, the proceeds of which directly fund CPCs.
For example, a recent NARAL investigation found that Virginia’s Department of Health currently refers low-income women to a list of 18 CPCs where they can receive a free ultrasound before getting an abortion. But when women visit those centers, they encounter misinformation about the abortion procedure — typically, false information about abortion’s link to breast cancer and depression. The staff at Virginia’s CPCs was also documented employing emotional manipulation, like writing “Hi, Dad” on the image of an ultrasound before handing it back to a patient. In extreme cases, CPC employees have even refused to turn over the ultrasound results to women who needed to bring them to an abortion clinic.
CPCs advertise themselves as viable alternatives to other women’s health clinics, even though they don’t tend to employ medical professionals and don’t offer the full range of reproductive health services. Multiple outside investigations have caught CPCs’ lies on tape. Women who visit the right-wing “clinics” are frequently told that emergency contraception is the same thing as an abortion, birth control contains carcinogens, condoms aren’t effective at preventing STDs, abortion is extremely dangerous, and women always regret ending a pregnancy.
Those type of emotionally manipulative tactics designed to convince women not to have an abortion typically increase their negative emotions about the experience, but don’t ultimately lead them to change their mind or regret their decision. Ninety percent of women have made up their minds about having an abortion before visiting a doctor or a clinic.