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Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), also known as pregnancy resource centers are non-profit organizations established by pro-life supporters that work to persuade pregnant women to give birth rather than have abortions. Most CPCs are in the United States. CPCs are usually affiliated with pro-life Christian organizations; two such organizations are Care Net and Heartbeat International. CPCs are distinct from centers providing pregnancy options counseling, a non-directive form of counseling where secular, medically-based information about all available choices, including abortion, is provided.

CPC activities

CPC staff members typically advise women against aborting, in accordance with their pro-life, Christian beliefs. Some crisis pregnancy clinics have been found to falsely advertise that they offer abortion services or counseling. Once a woman has been misled into a CPC, she may be subjected to a variety of coercive, emotional, and offensive tactics that are designed to convince her to not seek an abortion.

The majority of CPCs do not offer medical services; this is true of three-quarters of CPCs in the United States. Some CPCs in New Yorkmarker offer medical services, such as STD testing and pregnancy tests. This resulted in an investigation by then-attorney general Eliot Spitzer. Some CPCs offer bible study sessions and "peer counseling" for women who have recently terminated a pregnancy.

Use of sonograms

About a quarter of CPCs conduct sonograms as a way to persuade women not to abort. According to the Heidi Group, a Christian organization that advises crisis pregnancy centers, most women who visit CPCs and see their babies through the use of ultrasound technology decide against abortion.

Colorado-based Focus on the Familymarker has a goal of equipping 800 CPCs with ultrasound machines by 2010, through its "Option Ultrasound" program. As of November, 2007, they had donated ultrasound machines to 270 CPCs.

The Southern Baptist Convention—the largest Protestant denomination in the United Statesmarker—has formed an Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). The ERLC works to equip more CPCs with ultrasound machines, through what they call the "Psalm 139 Project". ERLC President Richard Land wrote: "If wombs had windows, people would be much more reticent to abort babies because they would be forced to confront the evident humanity of the baby from very early gestation onward."

Legal and legislative action in response to CPCs

In 1994, some CPCs were legally determined to have engaged in dishonest tactics, including false advertisement. This resulted in such CPCs being court-ordered to stop representing their centers as providing a complete range of health services, including abortion.

U.S. House of Representatives minority report

A United States House of Representatives minority report by Congressmen Henry Waxman concluded that CPCs provide "false and misleading information" on an alleged link between abortion and breast cancer, on the alleged effects of abortion on fertility, and on the alleged mental health effects of abortion.

The summary of the report states:

The individuals who contact federally funded pregnancy resource centers are often vulnerable teenagers, who are susceptible to being misled and need medically accurate information to help them make a fully informed decision. The vast majority of pregnancy resource centers contacted for this report, however, provided false or misleading information about the health risks of an abortion. This may advance the mission of the pregnancy resource centers, which are typically pro-life organizations dedicated to preventing abortion, but it is an inappropriate public health practice.


Pro-life advocates criticized Waxman's report, alleging that it contained inaccuracies and distortions.

The Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women's Services Act

On March 30, 2006, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NYmarker) introduced a bill called the "Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women's Services Act", which aims to hold crisis pregnancy centers up to truth in advertising standards. Maloney said of CPCs, "When women are making a health decision, they should never be subject to deceit and trickery... Some of these Crisis Pregnancy Centers should be called ‘Counterfeit Pregnancy Centers.’ They have the right to exist, but they shouldn’t have the right to deceive in order to advance their particular beliefs."

Public criticism

The Pearson Foundation is a St. Louis organization, founded in 1969 to assist local groups setting up anti-abortion counseling centers. CPCs which operate under the Pearson Foundation approach have been criticized as "deceptive" by the Federal Centers for Disease Control, the Texas Attorney General, the North Dakota Supreme Court, the American Civil Liberties Union, pro-choice advocates, and some pro-life groups, such as Birthright International, which also operates CPCs.

Critics charge that CPC administrators portray their businesses as "medical facilities", when they do not have professional licensing from local or state health departments, and are staffed primarily with volunteers rather than medical professionals. A 2002 Washington Post article noted that Planned Parenthood disagreed with the way CPC administrators presented their organizations.

Prevalence

As of September, 2006, there were over 2,200 pro-life pregnancy centers in the United States. While they are most prevalent in the United Statesmarker, CPCs are also present internationally. Most crisis pregnancy centers are affiliated with one of three major pro-life, Evangelical and Roman Catholic organizations that fund CPCs; these are Care Net, Heartbeat International, and Birthright International. Care Net is the largest network of CPCs in North America, with 1,100 centers advising over 350,000 women annually. Heartbeat International is associated with over 1,000 centers. The largest UK organisations are CareConfidential and LifeUK.

United States government funding

State funding

At least eight U.S. states, including Floridamarker, Louisianamarker, Minnesotamarker, Missourimarker, Nebraskamarker, North Dakotamarker, Pennsylvaniamarker and Texasmarker, subsidize crisis pregnancy centers.Cathie Adams, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas and long been active in the pro-life cause, began her career at a crisis pregnancy center in Planomarker, Texasmarker.

In seventeen U.S. states, individuals can support CPCs by purchasing Choose Life license plates. Motorists in these states can request these plates and pay an extra fee, a portion of which is used by the state to fund crisis pregnancy centers and adoption support organizations.

Federal funding

As of July, 2006, 50 CPCs had received federal funding. Between 2001 and 2006, over $60 million in federal funds were given to crisis pregnancy centers.

See also



References

  1. "Abortion Battle: Prenatal Care or Pressure Tactics?" The Washington Post
  2. "Major Complaints Against Crisis Pregnancy Centers and Efforts to Protect Women" Crisis Pregnancy Center Watch
  3. "Dillon and Spitzer Clash Over Abortion" New York Times.
  4. The Columbus Dispatch "Pregnancy centers stir debate"
  5. Baptist Press: 'Story shows that sonograms stop abortions'
  6. Focus on the Family Budgets $4.2M To Provide Ultrasound Equipment to Pregnancy Centers With Goal of Preventing Abortions, Medical News Today
  7. Focus Celebrates Option Ultrasound Success, Focus On the Family
  8. Psalm 139 Project
  9. "Anti-Abortion Center's Ads Ruled Misleading" The New York Times
  10. Waxman Report Is Riddled with Errors and Inaccuracies, The Heritage Foundation
  11. Waxman's whoppers, American Life League
  12. Waxman Report Falsely Accuses Pregnancy Centers, Concerned Women for America
  13. Abortion foes are getting public funds, San Francisco Gate


External links

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