Excellent: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilwoman Jessica S. Lappin (D) have introduced legislation to require so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" in New York City to disclose that they are not full-service reproductive health centers.
CPCs are self-proclaimed sub-specialty of the anti-choice movement. If these facilities were upfront about the fact that they only provide anti-abortion counseling and services for women who intend to carry unplanned pregnancies to term, no one would object. However, their modus operandi is to mimic full-service reproductive health centers in order to lure women who haven't yet made up their minds.
If you go to a CPC, you will not get standard medical advice on abortion and alternatives. You will get CPC-specific propaganda that drastically overstates the risks of abortion complications. What's insidious about CPCs is that instead of just honestly presenting their moral arguments about why they think abortion is wrong, they feel compelled to peddle pseudoscience to about abortion and breast cancer to women who wouldn't otherwise be convinced. They usurp the credibility of the health care system to manipulate innocent people who are in no position to independently check their claims.
Not that the average CPC attendant knows any better. CPCs are more likely to be staffed by volunteers than health care professionals. Most are more storefronts than clinics. They promise free pregnancy tests, which are the same kind you can buy over the counter.
The proposed legislation was spurred in part by a major investigation by NARAL Pro-Choice New York that exposed deceptive practices by local CPCs. An earlier investigation by the New York State Attorney General's office in 2002 found that CPCs routinely engaged in deceptive advertising and business practices designed to make women think that they were accessing mainstream health care facilities.
The further the impression that they are health care providers, CPCs often set themselves up across the street from legitimate women's health centers. The recent HBO documentary "12th & Delaware" profiles an abortion clinic and a CPC across the street from one another.
Real reproductive health centers offer a full range of services, or referrals for a full range of services, including adoption and abortion. They do not attempt to sway women into getting or not getting abortions. Why would they care? Real health centers give you the standard medical advice, including the risks and benefits of each procedure. They also offer contraception, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and preventative care like Pap smears.
Just the name "crisis pregnancy center" is a clue that you're dealing with a scam. Why would you have a health facility that was just for crisis pregnancies? Biologically, they're not different from other pregnancies. It would be illogical and counterproductive to address them in isolation, unless you had an agenda.
If you were really interested in women's health, wouldn't your facility helped prevent unplanned pregnancies and taught women how to safeguard their health and fertility against sexually transmitted diseases? That's what real reproductive health centers do. For real health care providers, abortion is just one facet of reproductive health care. The fact that crisis pregnancy centers only target women at their most desperate and vulnerable is a sign of their hidden agenda.
The proposed law would require CPCs to post a sign in the waiting room if they don't provide FDA approved contraceptives. CPCs would also have to disclose if they didn't have medical professionals on staff.
If they're really just interested in helping women who want to hear the anti-abortion message, then the CPCs of New York should have no objection to the new law.
[Photo credit: Petrichor, Creative Commons.]
Exciting news: I've started blogging about the California senate and governor's races for Planned Parenthood Action of California. Check out my posts at Getthefactsca.org. The next installment in my biweekly series for PPAC will be a recap on tonight's gubernatorial debate. Just to be clear, what I say at Big Think, and everywhere else, is purely my own opinion, not PPAC's.