Updated January 2018

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If you are pregnant and looking for information, you deserve honest information about all your options. You can get that information and the medical care you need at a real clinic, but you will not get it at a crisis pregnancy center. Their mission is to discourage women from getting abortions and access to birth control.

What are crisis pregnancy centers?

Crisis pregnancy centers may look like medical clinics; they may even use the word “clinic” in their names. Many are located close to real abortion clinics. They advertise that they provide pregnancy counseling and information about abortion and pregnancy, and they usually offer free pregnancy testing. Their websites and advertisements often use the same words and pictures as real abortion clinics. People working there may be wearing scrubs and stethoscopes, and there may even be a nurse on staff. Some even provide testing for sexually transmitted infections. But they do not provide abortions; most don’t provide any medical care at all. In fact, they actively discourage people from accessing abortion and birth control.

How can I spot a crisis pregnancy center?

Look for the words “pregnancy options,” “pregnancy resource center,” or “pregnancy care center” in your internet search results, on advertisements, and on their signage. Here are some examples of what you might see in your internet search results. The crisis pregnancy centers are circled:

If you call them, ask if they provide abortions, and, if they don’t, ask if they will they refer you to an abortion provider. If the “clinic” does not provide abortions and will not give you a referral it is probably a crisis pregnancy center.

You can also tell by the way they handle your pregnancy test. If you go in for a free pregnancy test and they do not give you the result right away, they refuse to tell you the result, or will not give you the result in writing, you are at a crisis pregnancy center.

In short, crisis pregnancy centers:

  • Will not refer you to abortion providers,

  • May not give you your pregnancy test result or will delay giving it to you,

  • May not give you complete information about your options,

  • May not have licensed medical providers on staff,

  • Advertisements may include the words “pregnancy options,” “pregnancy resource center,” or “pregnancy care center”

What will I find at a real abortion clinic?

Abortion clinics are health care facilities with trained medical care providers on staff. Internet listings and advertisements will use words like “abortion clinic,” “abortion provider,” and “family planning services” (though beware of CPCs that put those words on their internet listings and ads). Real abortion clinics provide:

  • Medical and surgical abortions,

  • Counseling about all options including parenthood, adoption, or abortion,

  • Birth control services (emergency contraception, pills, implants, injections, IUDs, etc.),

  • Lab tests for pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and other conditions,

  • Medical treatment of sexually transmitted infections and other conditions,

  • Referrals to prenatal or specialty care,

  • State-licensed physicians and nurse practitioners to provide services,

  • State-licensed providers to interpret ultrasounds, and

  • Test results without unnecessary delay


How do I find the help I need?


There are referral services that can direct you to reproductive health clinics (also called family planning clinics or women’s health clinics) near you that provide abortion and birth control.

  • Backline: Operates a toll-free talkline to provide judgment-free support for pregnancy options, pregnancy loss, abortion, adoption, parenting, infertility, or other reproductive decisions and experiences.

    • By phone: 1-888-493-0092

  • Northwest Abortion Access Fund: Provides referrals, fundraising counseling, and financial help to pay for abortions and related travel.

    • By phone: 1-866-NWAAF10 (1-866-692-2310)

If you are in financial need, you can apply for state medical coverage for an abortion or prenatal care. Go to You do not need to show a doctor’s note that you are pregnant to get this coverage; all you need to do is say that you took either a home or medical pregnancy test and it was positive.

For more information about your reproductive rights in Washington State, see our list of free publications

This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice.

This information is current as of January 2018. Updated by Sara Ainsworth, Chloë Phalan, and Priya Walia, 1/31/2018.

Acknowledgments to Janet Chung and the Legal Voice Health workgroup for their work developing this memo.

© 2018 Legal Voice — 1-206-682-9552

(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)