Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Graphic by Ramiro Ferrando

Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) are nonprofit organizations whose mission is to persuade pregnant people not to have abortions. These centers are usually run by socially conservative religious organizations and are deceptively set up to look like abortion clinics and marketed vaguely as pregnancy resource centers. They also often locate themselves in close proximity to abortion clinics. Consequently, patients frequently go to CPCs with the intention of accessing abortion care and instead are met with counselors trying to convince them to continue their pregnancies. These anti-abortion counselors use numerous methods to convince people not to get abortions, including unrealistic and gory videos of abortion procedures as well as ultrasounds with quotes such as “Hi, Mom!” written on them [1, 2]. In addition to using coercive methods, CPCs often spread misinformation regarding the physical and mental health risks of abortion, contraceptive efficacy, and sexually transmitted infections [3]. 

While some of these centers have some health professionals on staff, most do not and only offer minimal medical services, such as pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and occasionally sexually transmitted infection testing (but typically no treatment options). Despite the lack of medical care available at CPCs, they are increasingly receiving federal funding, particularly under the Trump administration [4]. Aided by this funding, these clinics have been spreading as anti-abortion sentiment has increased. As we know, abortion clinics, on the other hand, receive no federal funding as a result of the Hyde Amendment. To date, CPCs currently far outnumber abortion clinics [5].

What are Crisis Pregnancy Centers?

For a humorous, yet informative video

  • Crisis Pregnancy Centers: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

    Last Week Tonight | John Oliver | April 9, 2018

    In this segment of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver sheds light on CPCs’ missions to prevent abortions without providing adequate support to pregnant people. He demonstrates CPCs’ deceptive nature through clips of CPC directors expressing their organizations’ missions, namely to convince people not to have abortions.

Understanding the differences between abortion clinics and CPCs

  • Abortion Clinics and Crisis Pregnancy Centers Differ | Sarah Fowler | August 25, 2018

    This article compares abortion clinics and CPCs, highlighting the differences in the services they provide, their approaches to patient care, and their missions.

To understand how directly CPCs target abortion clinics:

  • 12th and Delaware

    Documentary | Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady

    This documentary, from filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, depicts a corner in Fort Pierce, Florida with a CPC located on one side of the street and an abortion clinic on the other. While the abortion clinic provides abortion care and other reproductive health services, the CPC exclusively functions to convince people considering abortion to continue their pregnancies. This film reveals the inner workings of both offices, documenting anti-choice counselors at the CPC giving pregnant people misinformation and pro-choice counselors at the abortion clinic providing options counseling to patients.

What does it feel like to be a patient at a CPC?

  • What I Learned Undercover at a Crisis Pregnancy Center | Caitlin Bancroft | August 15, 2013

    A NARAL Pro-Choice legal intern, Caitlin Bancroft, went undercover in a CPC to better understand what counseling sessions look like in these clinics. She details her experience of being shamed, given false medical information, and coerced into keeping her pregnancy (which in reality did not exist).

Wondering how CPCs are funded? In addition to donations, they receive FEDERAL funding:

  • Trump Administration Gives Family Planning Grant to Anti-Abortion Group | Kenneth Vogel and Robert Pear | March 19, 2019

    While many CPCs receive financial support through donations, they are increasingly accessing federal funds to support their organizations. Under the Trump administration, CPCs are now receiving Title X funds. Title X is a grant to support family planning services such as contraceptive care, STI testing, and well-woman care (not including abortion). Under the Trump administration, funds from this grant are allocated to CPCs where people do not have access to safe, effective contraception or accurate information regarding contraception and STI prevention.

The ethical implications of CPCs:

  • Why Crisis Pregnancy Centers are Legal but Unethical

    AMA Journal of Ethics | Amy Bryant and Jonas Swartz

    In this paper, Bryant and Schwarz construct an ethical argument against CPCs, particularly on the basis of nonmaleficence, which is the idea that health care providers “do not harm.” Through this analysis, they suggest that there are ways in which CPCs can operate in a more ethical manner and provide suggestions for current providers to help patients be aware of the existence and dangers of CPCs.

And, of course, the public health implications of CPCs

  • The Public Health Risks of Crisis Pregnancy Centers | Joanne Rosen | September 10, 2012

    CPCs deliberately spread false information about the risks and relative safety of abortion care as well as contraception. This misinformation holds serious public health implications, outlined here by the Guttmacher Institute.

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