Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has issued a warning about crisis pregnancy centers, saying these types of centers offer only limited, sometimes unlicensed, reproductive health care and can give patients misleading information. about their options, including abortion.
Pregnancy Crisis Centers exist throughout the country and offer free services and counseling for women dealing with unplanned pregnancies. Experts said they provide false or misleading information so women don’t get abortions, according to NBC News.
The University of Georgia School of Public Health, which tracks the location of these centers across the country on its Crisis Pregnancy Center card, says that these centers can harm public health not only by undermining a patient’s efforts to obtain an abortion, but also by providing poor medical care in other areas, such as STI testing.
Research has shown that these centers already outnumber clinics that offer abortion services across the country and the gap is expected to widen as abortion clinics are forced to close in states that have enacted or pass laws banning abortion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. In Massachusetts, there are three times more pregnancy crisis centers than abortion care centers, according to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“We just want people to understand that these centers advertise themselves as offering a full range of pregnancy-related services, but in fact they exclude abortion and they try to convince the person not to have an abortion,” said Cambridge City Councilor Quinton Zondervan.
Healey’s warning encouraged patients to do research before making an appointment anywhere, especially if they’re considering an abortion, which remains legal in Massachusetts. Crisis pregnancy centers are often funded by anti-abortion organizations and will not offer optional abortion or other care, including contraception, the warning said.
Most crisis pregnancy centers are not licensed medical facilities and do not have licensed doctors and nurses on staff, Healey’s warning continued. Because they are unlicensed, they are not required to follow the standards or ethics held by medical professionals, the post states. This means that unauthorized and unqualified personnel can perform ultrasound scans, which could be read inaccurately, and are not required to keep medical records confidential.
Some red flags to watch out for are if a center advertises things like free pregnancy tests, counseling, pre-abortion screenings, or abortion education, but will not provide abortions or referrals to care elsewhere , trying to delay appointments, staff trying to pressure a patient to continue a pregnancy, or if the center is listed as a pregnancy resource center, a pregnancy support center , a pregnancy care center or a women’s resource center.
A list of reproductive healthcare providers in New England is available here.
Anyone concerned about their experience at a center can file a complaint with the GA office online here or by calling 617-963-2917.