Nancy Hurlbert
As we approach three critical times for women’s health care – the passage of a national budget, including funding of Planned Parenthood; the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a constitutional right precipitously on the verge of being overturned; and the commencement of the Florida legislative session that began on Jan. 9 – consumers need to be aware of deceptive practices being perpetrated on women under the guise of “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs).
What are CPCs? Crisis pregnancy centers are anti-abortion, often religiously affiliated organizations masquerading as women’s health clinics while failing to provide comprehensive, evidence-based medical care. CPCs use deceptive and manipulative practices to ultimately shame women out of getting reproductive care, particularly birth control and comprehensive reproductive services.
These fake clinics use deceptive advertising practices such as intentionally placing advertisements under the “abortion services” heading of phone and internet directories and choosing names that are similar to abortion clinics to confuse women about what types of services they provide. People who are pregnant and seeking health care deserve timely access and a full range of care options, not medically inaccurate information pushed upon them by fake clinics.
CPCs will advertise they provide “comprehensive” health care to women and there “really is no need for Planned Parenthood since they can provide services at a lower cost.” While this may sound honest, the truth is most CPCs do NOT provide comprehensive health care.
Many of the over 4,000 CPCs in the United States (and 120 in Florida) have no licensed medical personnel and provide no referrals for birth control or comprehensive reproductive care.
What is worse, they fail to disclose this to women who are seeking accurate and timely health information. Once women are in the door, CPCs then give misleading and false information about birth control, emergency contraception and abortion care in order to stop women from using or obtaining these critical health care services. This undermines women’s ability to make informed decisions about their pregnancies … about their health care.
Florida lawmakers in recent years have repeatedly attacked women’s health care, in particular targeting access to safe and legal abortion. One of these avenues of attack by legislative leaders has been the funding of CPCs with taxpayer dollars, despite their pervasive use of medically inaccurate information, their practice of intentionally misleading and shaming women and a complete lack of state oversight to protect Floridians from these harmful tactics.
SB 444/HB 41, “legitimizing” CPCs, should not be heard or passed by this Legislature. This legislation intentionally restricts women’s access to the full range of health care services by funneling public funds to providers that exclusively “promote and support childbirth,” while cutting out qualified medical providers who offer the full range of family planning services. Deceptive advertising by CPCs that aims to trick women and divert them from these services should not be permitted … or legitimized.
The qualified family planning providers who would be denied funding by these harmful bills simply because they provide evidence based care – such as birth control, unbiased reproductive health counseling, or referrals to safe and legal abortion services – might be the only providers for miles around, leaving women in many areas of our state with reduced access to the quality medical care they need.
When any woman decides to discuss and/ or choose her reproductive health options, any service provider she chooses must have qualified medical staff that is required to provide her with the full range of options without an agenda or individuals’ judgment.
Florida taxpayer dollars should not be allocated for use by ideologically driven organizations that mislead women and jeopardize their health. Lawmakers, do not perpetuate this deception on women. Women, do you homework when seeking a healthcare provider. Do not be taken in by the deception of these “pregnancy centers”.