Sketchy Crisis Pregnancy Center Services Now Available to Barnes & Noble ShoppersS

An eagle-eyed reader spotted the above business card on a table at a Barnes & Noble in Annapolis, MD. It's for the Pregnancy Clinic, a crisis pregnancy center that claims condoms don't work and abortion can result in "delivery of a badly burned infant."

Sketchy Crisis Pregnancy Center Services Now Available to Barnes & Noble ShoppersS

Here's the back of the card. It reads, in part:

The Pregnancy Clinic provides a safe and confidential place to receive accurate information, professional services, and caring support.

Free Services include: Pregnancy and STI testing; Healthy Sexuality Counseling; Ultrasound for Pregnancy Viability; Education on Fetal Development, Abortion, and Adoption; Prenatal vitamins and Community Resource Referrals

The "education" about abortion on Pregnancy Clinic's website includes the warning that "relief may be experienced right after an abortion, but as days and months go by, a woman may become increasingly aware that the life that was once inside of her is no longer there," along with a list of "emotional risks" of abortion, including "Inability to forgive self," "Over-interest in babies," "Distance from God," and "Fear of inability to have children." That last might be stoked by the site's own "Abortion Q&A," which includes this item:

Will this affect my future ability to get pregnant?

There are no guarantees. While many women go on to have future pregnancies, there are women who are affected by infertility. For those who want a family in the future, the risks should be considered.

According to the Mayo Clinic, abortion is unlikely to affect fertility. Pregnancy Clinic also lists this as one of the physical risks of abortion:

Delivery of a Badly Burned Infant
The infant may survive this procedure and be delivered alive. But, may not live for a very long time thereafter.

This claim is popular on anti-choice sites — according to StayCatholic.com, after a saline abortion, "The baby may thrash about for a few moments, but soon it becomes perfectly still and dies. In about 24 hours labor will start and the mother will deliver a burned dead baby." Dr. Anne Davis, consulting medical director at Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health Pregnancy Clinic, told me that these claims were "outlandish" and had no basis in fact. She said saline abortions weren't performed anymore, but even if they were, she didn't see how one could "burn" a fetus. She explained that no commonly performed abortion technique uses heat or electricity or anything that would burn. Davis said she had "no idea" where Pregnancy Clinic got its claim.

The site also downplays the value of condoms:

Condoms do not eliminate the risk of acquiring an STD. For some infections that are spread skin-to-skin above the condom area, condoms offer no protection. With an STD epidemic existing in America today, this is serious to consider. Today, there are more than 25 STDs, many for which there is no cure. STDs can cause both emotional and physical pain as well as infertility, cancer, neurological disorders, and death.

This "no protection" claim is specious — the CDC notes that condoms don't fully protect against HPV, but can offer some protection. Same with herpes. Here, though, is the real head-scratcher from Pregnancy Clinic: "The only way to prevent STDs is to refrain from sexual activity until marriage." Apparently getting married is a foolproof protection against STDs!

A spokesperson for the Annapolis Barnes & Noble store couldn't say who had placed the cards there, but she said it wasn't a store employee. She said only Barnes & Noble business cards were authorized to be placed on any of the store's tables. Pregnancy Clinic has not responded to my questions about why they decided to put the cards in Barnes & Noble and what audience they were trying to reach. Whoever picks the cards up, though, is going to get a big dose of misinformation.