If you are confronted with the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy, it’s a stressful time. You might have a lot of questions, and you might not be totally certain about how you want to handle it. What you deserve in that moment is a reproductive health care provider who will listen to you, take you seriously, and be honest with you about all of your options, including abortion.
What is a Crisis Pregnancy Center?
Unfortunately, there is an epidemic of what are known as “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” — or quite simply, fake abortion clinics, that masquerade as abortion providers but do not provide abortions (or birth control) and try to steer people away from abortion through lies and manipulation. They will often go to great lengths to look like abortion clinics (sometimes even using words like “Choice” in their names!) but are not health care providers. They usually don’t even have health care professionals on staff!
So, if you are pregnant, how do you ensure the clinic you choose is a real health care provider that will give you the services you’re seeking and not a fake abortion clinic?
Here are a few things to look for:
Real clinics will be upfront about the services they provide.
If you think you might want to have an abortion, or if you want to explore birth control options, call the clinic up and ask them if they provide these services. Or, if you are not sure what services you want, ask them what reproductive health care services they provide.
A real health care provider will answer these questions honestly. A fake abortion provider might give you vague answers, or tell you that you need to come in first to get more information.
Real clinics will be honest with you about your options.
One of the main tactics of crisis pregnancy centers is to talk pregnant people out of getting an abortion. They will use lies and emotional manipulation to achieve this. Abortion is an extremely safe procedure with few known side effects. But staff at these fake clinics have been caught telling potential clients lies like that abortion can cause breast cancer or infertility (it can’t) or lead to depression later on (no link has been found).
A real clinic will let you know what your experience will be like (for instance, you may experience cramping) but will not try to persuade you heavily to take one course of action over another.
Real abortion providers will not try to stall you.
One goal of crisis pregnancy centers is to stall you long enough that it’s too late for you to have an abortion, especially in states with restrictions on abortion after a certain point. They’ll cancel appointments, they will ask you to come in for a second appointment weeks later, and so on.
A real abortion provider will get you in as soon as possible, because they understand that time is of the essence. If they are booked up, they will refer you to another provider or advise you on other options.
Real clinics will provide ultrasounds AND other services on site.
Sometimes fake clinics will tell people that they have to get an ultrasound at their site before going to a real abortion clinic (that’s actually something a fake abortion clinic is telling potential carafem clients — so beware!). Sometimes they’ll offer “free” ultrasounds to get people seeking an abortion to come to them. They want to get clients into their facility to talk them out of having an abortion, or stall them until it is too late.
Receiving an ultrasound at a CPC is never a prerequisite to having an appointment at a legitimate medical clinic and is not a strategy to lower the cost of an abortion appointment. If financial assistance is needed, most abortion clinics will work directly with clients and community supporters to find funding help.
So how do you find a real abortion or birth control provider?
If you are in the DC, Chicago, Nashville or Atlanta area, we at carafem are here for you! You can schedule an appointment here or call us at 855-SAY-CARA. We also offer abortion by mail in over a dozen states.
If you are elsewhere, the National Abortion Federation has online resources and a hotline to help you find a provider in your area.
If you are wondering about a clinic you’ve seen ads for, check out their Yelp and google reviews. Or call them and ask what services they provide. If they won’t give you a straight answer, or if you get to the clinic and you feel like they’re trying to keep you from having an abortion or using birth control, just leave!
Learn more about crisis pregnancy centers from Expose Fake Clinics.
If you do have an experience with a fake crisis pregnancy center, let others know! You can tweet about it with the hashtag #EndtheLies or write a Yelp or Google review letting others know.