Last month, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) do not need to provide any information about abortion to those who are seeking health care services. Crisis pregnancy centers are faith-based, many of them renounce modern contraception methods, and they often employ deceptive strategies to prevent pregnant people from obtaining abortion.
With names like “Center for Pregnancy Choices,” “Life Choices Family Resource Center,” “Pregnancy Decision Health Center,” and “All Women’s Help Center,” CPCs may be strategically located near abortion clinics, high schools, or in low-income neighborhoods. CPCs target visitors who believe that they will receive unbiased information and counseling about abortion services. Staff members at these centers are trained to encourage visitors to carry their pregnancies to term. They may use spurious claims to deceive visitors, offering persistent medical misinformation until it is too late for them to seek proper abortion care. They commonly infer false links between abortion and breast cancer, or provide ultrasounds with no medical background or certification.
In California, state law had long required that crisis pregnancy centers inform their visitors about state-sponsored health care options, including abortion. In last month’s ruling, the court found in favor of a free speech argument. A 5-4 majority agreed that California government could not force organizations that oppose abortion on religious grounds to provide patients with any information about it.
According to the Supreme Court, these organizations that are equipped with medical technology and advertised as valid health centers— are not required to give visitors accurate, medically sound information. CPCs are free to make false claims, and many of them even receive federal funding.
In the U.S., there are 2,752 crisis pregnancy centers, and under 1,800 abortion clinics. The discrepancy is most alarming in select states; in Mississippi, there is 1 abortion clinic and 38 crisis pregnancy centers. Lack of access to the full range of health care options is unjust and unsafe— and it dispraportionately affects members of low-income communities, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA communities, immigrant communities, and communities of color.
A study that surveyed 4,008 adult survivors of sexual violence in the U.S. found that five percent of them became pregnant as a result of rape. Of those, half chose to have an abortion. While anti-sexual violence and reproductive health work often overlap, abortion care should be made available to everyone who needs it, in every circumstance. In the general population, nearly one in four will have an abortion by age 45. It is necessary medicine, and access to it should not be so difficult, unequal, and obscured by trap laws. No person should have important medical information withheld from them; that is unethical.
This Supreme Court decision will allow for crisis pregnancy center staff to withhold information from visitors who are looking for supportive care in the state of California. The health implications are deeply troubling, and people need to be aware of the pervasiveness of crisis pregnancy centers— sometimes called “fake clinics”— in the U.S. This ruling fails people who need reproductive health care, it fails people who face difficult decisions in the aftermath of unintended or high-risk pregnancy, and it fails a collective responsibility to honor medicine, science, and truth.
This post was submitted to End Rape On Campus anonymously.
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