Court Rules in Favor of Crisis Pregnancy Centers' Right to Lie to Women

Illustration for article titled Court Rules in Favor of Crisis Pregnancy Centers' Right to Lie to Women

The end goal of every single one of the thousands of faith-based non-profit crisis pregnancy centers across the country is to convince pregnant women not to get abortions, often through disseminating false medical information (abortion causes breast cancer/suicide/ZOMBIES) and high-pressure counseling. (Jesus died so you could have this baby, didn't you know?)


The fact that there are more than five times as many CPCs in the U.S. as there are abortion clinics is already about a 1,000 on the 1-to-infuriating scale, but to make matters worse, many centers try and deceive women into coming into their offices by being purposefully vague about the types of services they offer or whether they are medically licensed. (The majority are not.)

Seems wrong, right? Some cities think so, too, and have tried their best to legally mandate that CPCs post signage that makes it clear that they do not provide or refer for abortions and contraception. But the centers keep challenging these laws and, bizarrely, keep winning on the basis of free speech, despite evidence that they're trying to trick potential clients.

Baltimore is the latest city to have a CPC-related ruling struck down: this week, the U.S. Appeals Court in Richmond upheld a lower court ruling that prevented the city from enforcing a 2009 law requiring the centers to openly disclose the types of services they offer.

"In compelling that speech, the Pregnancy Center is, in this case, required to participate in the city's effort to tell pregnant women that abortions are available elsewhere as a morally acceptable alternative, contrary to the moral and religious beliefs of the Pregnancy Center," decreed the majority ruling written by U.S. Circuit Judge Paul Niemeyer and supported by Judge G. Steven Agee.

U.S. Circuit Judge Robert King, who dissented, called the majority's decision "indefensible" and said "these proceedings have thus followed a course more fitting a kangaroo court than a court of the United States," given extensive evidence of their deception.

Literally all the Baltimore clinics would have had to do is post straightforward signs saying "CLINIC NAME Does Not Offer or Refer For Abortion or Birth Control." Now, they can continue to pretend otherwise in hopes women mistake them for actual women's health centers. Thank heavens we have judges who can uphold the right of sketchy, ideologue-driven centers to practice the free speech of not telling patients the truth.


Christian Pregnancy Center Freed From Abortion Postings [Bloomberg]

Image via hartphotography /Shutterstock.


Katie J.M. Baker

To further highlight how deceptive some of these clinics are: I used to work at the SF Chronicle, and I was once researching a story on abortion clinics and Googled "Where do I get an abortion in San Francisco?" to find some numbers. I called the first clinic that showed up — First Resort — and was confused when they were super sketchy on the phone and said I had to call their main office to hear more about the services they offered or come in for an in-person appointment. "But you're an abortion provider, right?" I said. They would not say "no." Ten minutes after getting off the phone, I realized that they did not actually perform abortions!

I felt like such an idiot. But then I also found out that their SF center is located under OB/GYN services in the same large medical building as my DENTIST, and that Kaiser used to refer women to them until their founder told a newspaper that she wanted to turn the Bay Area into an abortion-free community. CPCs are really, reeeeally good at deceiving potential clients. It's insane to me that courts keep ruling in their favor.