March 17, 2015 — An undercover investigation by NARAL Pro-Choice California found that antiabortion-rights crisis pregnancy centers provide pregnant women with "false and manipulative rhetoric and much more," Amy Everitt, state director of the group and the NARAL Pro-Choice California Foundation, writes in an opinion piece for the Sacramento Bee's "Soapbox."
Everitt notes that while California has "some of the strongest protections for reproductive rights in the country," opponents of reproductive rights have found "underhanded ways to interfere with women's health." The investigation found that 53 of 58 California counties have at least one CPC. The centers often use misleading Internet advertisements and locations "that look like health clinics" and purport to offer "'abortion consultation'" or "'abortion counseling'" to "lure women," according to Everitt.
NARAL Pro-Choice California sent undercover investigators to 43 CPCs in 19 California counties. Everitt writes, "Once women enter a [CPC], they face a barrage of medical misinformation from staff or volunteers who present themselves as authorities on reproductive health." For example, 91% of the clinics visited for the investigation had volunteers who "falsely linked abortion to health problems such as breast cancer, the debunked 'post-abortion stress syndrome,' infertility and even death."
The volunteers also advised women to delay their abortions and rarely referred women to physicians if they indicated signs of pregnancy complications. Further, many of the centers used "shame, fear and humiliation to discourage women from exercising choice," according to Everitt.
Everitt writes, "Regardless of one's position on abortion, we can all agree that women should not be given medical misinformation." She concludes, "Women facing unintended pregnancies need prompt access to comprehensive information about their full range of options, including abortion," and should not be lied to, "especially when those lies can have serious health consequences and create barriers to receiving safe, accurate medical care in a timely fashion" (Everitt, "Soapbox," Sacramento Bee, 3/12).