We have talked about Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) before, discussing how they are facilities that claim to provide comprehensive pregnancy care to women despite being anti-choice organizations. They are often religiously affiliated and may not be staffed by any qualified healthcare professionals. Usually these facilities are located near abortion clinics or women’s health clinics and intend to confuse women who may be seeking an abortion. These organizations will offer services that may appeal to newly pregnant women who are weighing their options. Some of these services can include things like free pregnancy tests or ultrasounds. Frequently they advertise that they will help women evaluate their options for the pregnancy, but abortion is never promoted as an option and women are often shamed or coerced into keeping the pregnancy.
As providers who work in an abortion clinic in Pennsylvania, it is important to be aware of what you are up against so that you can combat it effectively. The first CPC was established in Hawaii in 1961 and now in Pennsylvania there is one in almost every single county. The number of CPCs in the United States far outnumbers the amount of abortion clinics, which further limits women’s options for receiving effective reproductive healthcare.
The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation offers a list of CPCs in each county on their website. At the top of their page they present a toll free number that people can call and even advertise that if someone has taken the first abortion pill they should call right away. Some counties have an enormous amount of CPCs for women to choose from. Allegheny County for example has 20 CPCs, many of which have the names “Women’s Choice Network,” or “Choices Pregnancy Center.” These names deliberately mislead women and can greatly impact their life choices. As women’s healthcare providers it is important that you research what CPCs are located in the area that you serve so that you can properly educate patients that they are not healthcare centers and will not provide them with all of the options that are available to them. This website also offers an options section that leaves out abortion.
One part of their website that may actually be beneficial to pro-choice healthcare providers is the legislative alerts section under the “Legislation” tab. This takes you to a page that lists current legislative actions that could impact the pro-choice movement. Some of the legislation listed includes things such as the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the Child Tax Credit for Pregnant Moms act. While the site advertises the National Right to Life at the top and should thus be taken with a grain of salt, it does enable viewers to maintain awareness about what legislation is in the works. They can then research these legislative actions and figure out how to get involved in preventing them from becoming law.
Ultimately like most states, Pennsylvania has more CPCs than abortion clinics and women’s rights to effective reproductive care are always at risk. Staying on top of what is happening in your state can help you effectively care for your patients and empower them in making decisions about their pregnancies.