How to distinguish a “pregnancy crisis center” from a legitimate abortion clinic

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Drawing: Angelique Alzona

Last week, a vandal, presumably a right to life activist, spray painted “Baby Killer” on the front of a women’s health clinic. The trap ? In a plot worthy of The gift of the Magi, it turns out that the clinic was in fact a “pregnancy crisis center“, or an anti-choice operation dedicated to speaking women outside to have abortions. The CPC looked so much like a legitimate abortion provider that it managed to cheat even its so-called allies.

Which begs the question: How can an unexpectedly pregnant person seeking abortion care ensure that they have found a legitimate abortion provider – and not some shady operation that uses fear-mongering and scare tactics. false information to deter or delay women from having an abortion? CPCs obviously look a lot like abortion clinics, have similar names, and can be located near Planned Parenthoods or other health clinics and abortion providers. Google Maps doesn’t necessarily help matters.

To get a feel for how someone seeking an abortion can avoid being duped by a CPC, I spoke to Elizabeth Clark, director of health media for Planned Parenthood.

Get a referral from someone you trust

“Emergency pregnancy centers often deliberately use language, in their advertising or signs, that mimics legitimate, licensed health care,” says Clark. “They use names that are similar to those of real health care providers. It can make things difficult [to know you’re in the right place]. “But the best way to know you have an appointment with a legitimate provider is to get a referral from someone you know, either your doctor or someone else in the health field, or a trusted friend or family member. Now not everyone has someone to ask, obviously. In that case …

Start your research online

“Go to a resource that you know is legitimate and that provides information on actual licensed health care providers,” says Clark. Planned parenthood can help you find a clinic by postal code, or you can call 1-800-230-PLAN.

The National Abortion Federation provides a map of state abortion providers and a hotline for abortion referrals and financial assistance. The site will also notify you of “special conditions” in your state, such as a mandatory 24-hour waiting period or notification from a parent if you are a minor.

Check the website carefully

“Be really wary of what you read. Emergency pregnancy centers are not required to be real medical facilities and are not required to provide accurate health care information. Look to see if there are licensed medical personnel. Are there licensed clinicians? What services do they say they provide? Clark said. On the day of your abortion, the clinic must have a doctor or APC (advanced practice clinician) present.

Use your intuition and look for a language you don’t like. On their websites, “CPCs are already trying to argue for a certain decision,” Clark says, and they will offer false information, such as claiming that abortion is unsafe, which women who have abortions are more likely to develop. cancer, that abortion affects future fertility, or that abortion inevitably leads to regret. A typical line on a CPC website, says Clark, is something like, “Thinking about abortion? Don’t make a decision until you’ve got all the facts.

Call before entering

“Ask about their services over the phone, says Clark. “If they say they don’t provide abortion, contraception, STD testing, condoms, and they won’t refer you to anyone who will, that’s a wake-up call. If they don’t give you any information over the phone about the services they provide, they probably aren’t a legitimate healthcare provider. Now, that can get tricky, as CPCs will outright lie about what they provide to get you in.

To be informed

Your best defense against lies or misinformation is to know the facts yourself. Abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer. This does not lead to mental health problems or depression. Abortion is unlikely to cause future fertility problems (especially early and non-surgical abortion). Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures and is safer than childbirth. “Knowing what types of incomplete, incorrect, or false information a bogus health facility might give you” is your best weapon against scams, Clark explains. Parenthood planning abortion “learn” page offers simple information on procedures.

You can also consult this project, ExhibitFakeClinics, to see if the clinic you plan to go to is listed on their website. If you’ve had any experience with a CPC, you can list it here (or even give it a detailed review on Yelp, if you can believe it). The bottom line: ask someone you trust and do your research. Hopefully the only misinformed people will be the vandals.

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