What it’s like visiting a crisis pregnancy center, the organizations that pose as women’s healthcare providers

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What it’s like visiting a crisis pregnancy center, the organizations that pose as women’s healthcare providers

‘She said I’d have a miscarriage in the next week’

Crisis pregnancy centers aren't abortion clinics, or even licensed healthcare providers — but they don't want you to know that.

According to Maria, a 28-year-old mother of three who's visited crisis pregnancy centers in two different states, they don't tend to advertise what you're actually getting when you walk through the door.

"There are organizations out there that look to benefit off of misinforming pregnant women," Maria told babe. "They give out medically inaccurate information and they try and guilt trip you into doing what they want you to do."

What would Jesus do?

Both of the crisis pregnancy centers Maria visited were affiliated with Christianity, a fact she said wasn't aware of until she was already there. At one center in Florida, Maria had to sign a paper stating that the center wasn't religiously affiliated and didn't try to pressure her. She said they did this to ensure their state funding.

After she signed, Maria said the volunteer she spoke to immediately asked about her faith. "Even though they claim they weren't religiously affiliated, it was sort of like you had to be religious and let them preach to you in order to get services," she said.

'Deceptive marketing'

At the second crisis pregnancy center she visited, while pregnant with her third child, Maria expected to be dealing with medical professionals while getting a pregnancy test and an ultrasound.

When her pregnancy test came back positive, — a urine test because nobody at the center was medically qualified to do a blood test — Maria said a volunteer tried to dissuade her from getting an abortion even though she wasn't interested in one in the first place.

"She tried to guilt-trip me out of an abortion I hadn't even told her that I was gonna get yet," Maria said.

The volunteer even told her that if she did get an abortion, the abortion was reversible — which is medically false. Then, when Maria returned for an ultrasound, the volunteer who operated the ultrasound machine completely misread the results and told Maria she would miscarry.

Maria said she was "devastated" at the bad news. "But apparently she was wrong if a kid popped out a few months later!" she said.

Maria made an appointment with an actual OBGYN a week later. The doctor told her she was still pregnant and that nothing was wrong with the baby despite what the center told her.

"It's deceptive marketing to call yourself a pregnancy center or a health clinic or any sort of thing but you don't actually offer any of those services," Maria said. "Overall, they're pretty shady places."

Maria's experience is not an anomaly

Sarah, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, works in reproductive healthcare and said this kind of treatment is typical in crisis pregnancy centers. "They're spreading misinformation," she told babe. "They're not regulated like a medical provider. Any 'evidence' is not backed by scientific standards."

According to Sarah, women often go to crisis pregnancy centers because they don't have other options available in their area or because they think they're going to an office staffed with medical professionals — and that's the impression crisis pregnancy centers often want to give off with purposefully vague language.

Some red flags that an organization is a crisis pregnancy center and not a women's healthcare provider include post-abortion support groups, offering services like pregnancy tests and ultrasounds but not abortions or STI testing, and language like "Pregnant and Scared?"

But crisis pregnancy centers might have to change the way they operate

Right now, the Supreme Court is currently deciding whether or not crisis pregnancy centers in California will have to legally disclose that they're not abortion providers, a fact that they generally try to hide.

The case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, could very well set a precedent for legislation nationwide, which is especially critical for people seeking an abortion — a procedure that a landmark study just proved is safe and effective in the United States.

"If the government is not going to invest in women's healthcare, these piecemeal approaches [like funding crisis pregnancy centers] aren't going to help," Sarah said. "Lying to people isn't going to help anyone."

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